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Sheriff: We were ready to clear park

| Friday, Feb. 10, 2012, 12:00 p.m.

Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen said on Thursday that he was prepared to evict Occupy Pittsburgh protesters had they remained in Bank of New York Mellon Corp.'s Downtown park.

Instead, about 60 deputies surrounded and searched a dark, empty Mellon Green with bomb-sniffing dogs about 5:15 a.m. yesterday, nearly 12 hours after the group protesting corporate greed departed for good after about a four-month encampment.

Mullen said deputies searched the park after someone made an online threat earlier in the week hinting that an explosive device would be left in the park. They found little but garbage and rats.

After the search, crews hired by BNY Mellon removed tents, picked up whatever was left and enclosed the mud-caked park in fencing.

"The park is closed, and we will begin planning for the extensive repairs," BNY Mellon spokesman Ron Gruendl said.

In court documents, Common Pleas Judge Christine A. Ward wrote that the banking giant could spend $70,000 to $100,000 to restore the park.

Protesters had hailed Mullen, insisting that he was standing up against BNY Mellon and not acting on the eviction notice, but Mullen said that wasn't the case.

He said that law enforcement knew protesters were monitoring any possible eviction movements, but also that protesters were "wearing down."

"I think this may be the first city in the country that they just left peacefully without interaction with the police," Mullen said.

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