Salt Lake Police have ordered the closure of the 'Occupy Salt Lake' protest after the discovery of a dead body inside a tent at the protest campsite.
Police and fire authorities say the death may have been caused by drug related issues, carbon monoxide exposure from a heater inside the tent, or a combinatin of both.
Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank said the camp would be closed by Saturday evening due to health concerns. The decision sparked anger in the protesters.
"To expect everybody to pack up and leave by tomorrow is ludacris," Joseph Tucker, a protester, said. "People need time to figure out what they are going to do with their tents and where they are going to go."
A group of protesters joined together Friday night to chant against the evacuation order.
Burbank said officers would issue citations or arrest people who refuse to leave.
Campers from a similar protest group at the Gallivan Center would also be forced to leave, according to Burbank.
The man has been identified by protest organizers as a member of the group that is demonstrating against what they perceive as corporate and bank greed.
The group is a splinter of the national 'Occupy Wall Street' movement.
Police removed a tent heater and some drug syringes from the man's tent during their investigation.
The demonstrators have been camping at the site in Pioneer Park at 400 South and 400 West for the past month.
Similar protests have been held in other U.S. cities.
Later Friday afternoon, the city released a statement regarding the camp out protest, saying:
"Following the tragic death at the Occupy SLC encampment at Pioneer Park Thursday night, Salt Lake City will no longer beissuing overnight free-speech camping permits anywhere in the City.
Multiple City agencies have participated in creating ordinance exceptions to allow for Occupy SLC participants to carry out their protest since early October by way of camping on public property. It is nowclear that public health and safety are at risk, and the most appropriate course of action is to accommodate the Occupy SLC movement in ways that do not include overnight camping. Protest participants have been advised they may not sleep overnight at either encampment after [Friday] night.
While overnight camping permits will no longer be issued, the City will continue to work with protestors to ensure their free-speech rights are protected."
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker agreed with the action, saying:
“The decision to stop issuing camping permits is in no way a call to impede the free speech rights of the Occupy SLC group. The Pioneer Park protest site has become a place where some members of our homeless population have settled rather than seek available shelter andneeded services. The unfortunate death that occurred Thursday night illustrates the necessity to prohibit overnight camping in the City.”
Several protestors disagreed with the city's actions, and indicated that they would risk arrest in order to continue their protest.