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Police make first mass arrests of Occupy Tampa protesters

TAMPA, Fla (Reuters) - Tampa police arrested 29 members of the anti-Wall Street Occupy Tampa group overnight when they refused to leave a downtown park, a police department spokeswoman said on Friday.

They were the first mass arrests of the Tampa protesters from the Occupy movement, which opposes alleged unfairness in the U.S. economic system, since the group's actions began three months ago at another Tampa park.

On Thursday members of the group had marched to Riverfront Park in Tampa and said they wanted to spend the night there. Police told them the park was closed and asked them to leave.

Those who refused to go were arrested and charged with trespassing and resisting arrest, according to police spokeswoman Laura McElroy, who said the arrests took place without violence.

McElroy said she did not know how many had posted bail as of Friday morning.

The Tampa group is one of many offshoots of the Occupy Wall Street movement which appeared around the country after the original group set up camp in New York.

Many cities have moved against the protesters' encampments in recent weeks, saying their free speech rights to make their views known do not extend to living indefinitely in public spaces.

(Reporting by Robert Green; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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