LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Police arrested four members of Occupy Little Rock on Wednesday as the city evicted the group from a downtown parking lot following a seven-month protest.

Officers made the arrests peacefully at about 2 p.m. — seven hours after the group's permit expired. The protesters had to leave the parking lot because the city says it needs the space for buses during Arkansas Riverfest over the Memorial Day weekend and for other summer activities.

"We wanted to make sure they had plenty of time to clear out anything that they wanted to," Little Rock police Lt. Terry Hastings said.

Occupy spokesman Greg Deckelman, who was among those taken into custody, said he believed his constitutional right to protest was being violated that he planned to pursue a court challenge. Occupy Little Rock isn't incorporated, so the group doesn't have standing to sue.

The protest group initially set up in October at the Clinton Presidential Center but moved as a compromise after Police Chief Stuart Thomas pulled a permit for the group to stay at the parking lot next to the main post office and across the street from the city's tourist information center.

Thomas was back at the site on Wednesday after police roped it off with yellow caution tape. He sat down with the four protesters who wanted to be arrested.

Thomas "asked them if they would leave," Hastings said. "They politely declined. At that time he asked them if they would go with the officers and they did, very politely."

About 30 officers were on hand for the arrests and Hastings said most were there to finish cleanup of the site. Officers donned white hazmat suits to begin the work. Five tents remained amid stacks of wood pallets, carpet remnants and refuse.

As the four were being arrested, protesters outside the police line chanted their support, and some also yelled at police.

Occupy Little Rock was one of the last remaining Occupy camps, and one of the oldest. The group began as an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street but adopted local and state causes in addition to complaining about big banks and eroding personal freedoms. The Little Rock protesters backed a proposed ballot item that would strengthen ethics rules for elected officials and ban corporate political contributions. They also have joined with people opposed to a city plan to condemn homes to make way for a tech park near the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and have publicly opposed home development in the Lake Maumelle Watershed.

Marie Mainard O'Connell, the group's "protest chaplain," said the group will continue to try to influence issues even without a campsite.

"We know each other now," she said. "We can use this as an opportunity to become more nimble."

The group hasn't given up on finding a new protest site, but Deckelman said all its efforts have been shot down by the city.

The group expected police to move in at 7 a.m., and about 50 people gathered to show their support. The group had coffee and doughnuts out. The group gradually thinned — some had to go to work — and about 20 people were left by noon.

Hastings said police wouldn't throw away equipment left by the protesters.

"We will clean up this site, make sure their property is stored so they can get it back," he said.