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Electricity cut off to Occupy Baltimore protesters

Electricity was shut off Wednesday evening to outlets in McKeldin Square that protesters have used for the past month to power computers, televisions and kitchen appliances.

Safety concerns were the primary reason that power was cut off, said Ian Brennan, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who has said she will address violations on the plaza while the protest continues on a case-by-case basis.

Inspectors surveyed the area and determined that the large number of items being powered from each outlet created fire hazards, he said. Power strips were plugged into many of the outlets, which are at the base of lampposts.

The protesters, aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement, have set up tents and remained on the square night and day for the past month without a permit from the city.

The protesters' failure to adhere to permitting procedures also led to the energy being cut, Brennan said.

"It is meant to be used by people who have filed a permit," he said.

Street lights on the square will remain illuminated.

"We were able to turn off the power remotely," Brennan said. "The locations still remain lit for general foot traffic, but there's no power for your PlayStation."

The protesters took to social media after the outlets went dead to demonstrate that a lack of power from the city would not push them from the square.

"Sustainable off-grid solutions are welcomed and needed," the group Tweeted about 8 p.m.

The group is also "in the process of acquiring larger, sturdier, more attractive temporary structures to house the Occupation's infrastructure, and provide a sheltered area for General Assemblies to take place in inclement weather," according to a statement Wednesday night posted on the group's Facebook page.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

twitter.com/stevekilar

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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