PORTLAND — Occupy Maine protesters are planning to clean up their city park encampment as they await word on whether they’ll be able to remain there through the winter and spring.

The city of Portland today filed a response to Occupy Maine’s lawsuit seeking to remain in Lincoln Park, where campers have been staying since October. Occupy Maine claims the city’s eviction order violates its constitutional rights.

In its 42-page response, the city argues that camping isn’t a constitutionally protected form of speech and that local laws provide reasonable restrictions on when and how the park can be used. Occupy Maine’s attorney has seven days to respond to the city’s filing.

With their time in the park possibly winding down depending on a judge’s decision, Occupy Maine is holding a cleanup of the park on Saturday and Sunday. The group planned the cleanup last week, and city officials this week asked members to clean up trash and debris and remove unoccupied tents and structures.

A small band of protesters continues to camp out even as other Occupy groups around the country fall by the wayside. Members say it’s important to continue protesting what they call the growing wealth disparity between the richest 1 percent and the remaining 99 percent.

Campers are also motivated by the knowledge that the Portland encampment is one of the last ones left standing, said Alan Porter, 45, who’s been in the park since the first week.

“That’s what keeps us going — not only are we one of the last ones, we were also one of the first ones,” said Porter, an unemployed tree cutter. “Maybe we’ll be the last one to go down.”

At one point, up to 70 tents were set up in Lincoln Park, with scores of people camping out. Today, there were barely two dozen tents standing. People come and go, and anywhere from 12 to 18 people typically camp out through the night, those at the park say.

Junk has accumulated in the park over time, and members have been cleaning it out this week. During the weekend, volunteers were planning to haul away several truckloads of trash, discarded mattresses, pallets and other items.

While much of the public attention about Occupy Maine has focused on the park, the group has quietly been building its organization and support in the community.

Occupy Maine rents office space in downtown Portland, where it has three computers, a printer and a phone. It has produced two hour-long TV shows that have been airing on community access stations.

It organizes events and protests to get its message out, and is sending people from Maine to other Occupy events in Washington, D.C., and Florida in January. More than a dozen Occupy Maine members planned to travel to New Hampshire for Occupy New Hampshire events in the days leading up to the Jan. 10 presidential primary.

The Portland group is also working with other Occupy groups in towns across Maine, including Kennebunk, Falmouth, Ellsworth, Augusta, Bangor and even in Aroostook County in far northern Maine, said Jennifer Rose, 29, who is active in the group and spends a night or two at Lincoln park each week.

The Occupy Maine movement is much larger than just the people who camp at Lincoln Park, she said.

“We have 7,000 people following just the Portland Occupy section on Facebook,” she said.

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