Forty-six people were arrested in Boston this morning as part of an operation to evict the Occupy movement in the city.

Police moved into Dewey Square at 4:55am (9.55am Irish time), encountering little resistance as they cleared it of protesters camped out there as part of a nationwide grassroots movement against economic inequality and corporate greed.

"They didn't put up much of a fight. As we moved in, the protesters were sitting down. It was all very orderly. They wanted to get arrested," Boston Police Superintendent William Evans said.

Supt Evans defended the decision to clear out the protesters, who oppose what they say is corporate influence over politicians and an economy geared to favour only the richest elite.

"It all went very peacefully. The issue here is they were trespassing. Never were they arrested for their First Amendment rights. Mayor (Thomas) Menino has supported them but they overstayed their welcome," he said.

Officer Eddy Chrispin, a spokesman for the Boston Police Department, said 32 men and 14 women were arrested for trespassing, "and a few for resisting".

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement that sprang up in New York in September and quickly spread to other cities, protesters in Boston made their stand in the financial district's tiny square.

But authorities in New York and a string of other cities have cleared the tent camps, forcing the movement to reassess where it goes from here.

The Occupy Boston movement chronicled the demise of the Dewey Square camp on its website, reporting that police barricaded the square while a front loader was brought in to clear the tents as protesters gathered outside South Station.

The Boston protest lasted two-and-a-half months.