Did Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed handle Occupy Atlanta properly?

After the arrests of 52 protesters in Woodruff Park Tuesday night, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he has no regrets about how he handled the three-week saga of Occupy Atlanta.

But Reed is fielding criticism from all points : he was too harsh, or too lenient, or too indecisive.

Reed laid out some of his reasons for cracking down on the protests, which started Oct. 7.

He characterized the occupation as increasingly unsafe. There were wire hangers inserted into electrical sockets, Reed  said. Campers stored propane heaters and 20-gallon propane tanks inside tents and smuggled in a generator. Someone was walking around this week with an AK-47 rifle, he said. There was a hip-hop concert over the weekend without an adequate security plan -- a concert that led to a heated exchange with an Occupy Atlanta leader in a police command trailer on Saturday.

Reed said it was just too much, and it had to end.

"You don't get credit if nothing bad happens," he said, adding that he's fine with that. "We have kept people safe from being harmed."

Some Atlanta-area residents say Reed has navigated the occupation adroitly. Others say he botched it, either by letting the protesters stay or by kicking them out.

Critics from the law-and-order side say his special allowance for Occupy Atlanta to stay in the park -- extended Oct. 17, then revoked eight days later -- cost taxpayers money.

The mayor's office estimates Occupy Atlanta has cost the city more than $300,000 since the protests started, although it has not given a detailed breakdown of those costs.

City Councilman Michael Julian Bond, who sits on the council's public safety committee, said the mayor could have acted sooner to kick out the protesters and avoided putting the city on the hook for security.

"The laws are on the books -- the park closes at 11 p.m. ," Bond said. "It doesn't get much simpler than that."

Still other critics assail Reed's decision to clear the park. Matt Hennie, founder and managing editor of gay news site Project Q Atlanta, said the riot-gear police and heavy police presence reminded him of the Atlanta Eagle bar raid in 2009. That raid has cost the city more than $1 million in settlements from patrons who claimed officers violated their civil rights.

. "There was a heavy police presence and trumped-up security concerns," Hennie said. "It shows that the administration doesn't have much in the way of patience."

Atlanta Chief George Turner said the plan implemented Tuesday had been developed over two weeks. The heavy police presence helped make sure evicting the protesters was peaceful, different from police and protester clashes in other states where police used tear gas and fired on protesters with rubber bullets.

In an unscientific AJC.com poll that garnered nearly 3,600 responses, about 21 percent of respondents say Reed was too harsh with the protesters while 36 percent said he was too lenient. About 12 percent said he was "too indecisive." Nearly 30 percent said he "handled it about right."

City Councilman Kwanza Hall, whose district includes the park, said many of his downtown constituents told him the mayor and the police department "did a good job last night."

Kerwin Swint, a political scientist at Kennesaw State University, said Reed "bent over backwards for quite a while" to balance the rights of the protesters with the needs of the city.

"To some extent, he may sympathize with some of their goals," Swint said. "And yet, he can't turn over the city to them. I think he's been fair. Threading the needle is what he's been trying to do. He's been very accommodating."

For Charlie Keyes, 65, of Johns Creek, the arrestsbrought an end to an uneasy period.

"I’m just glad it’s over," he said. "We are a nation of laws and they were breaking the law. The longer this went on, the more chance there was of violence breaking out."

A.J. Robinson heads a group called Central Atlanta Progress, which plants flowers and cuts grass in Woodruff Park. He said Reed did a good job in a difficult situation. "Everyone wants to respect free speech and freedom of assembly," he said. "At the same time, Woodruff Park is for everybody. We're glad to have it back."

Staff Writers Rhonda Cook and Alexis Stevens contributed.