BERLIN — Police in heavy riot gear began clearing out a notorious Berlin leftist squat on Friday morning, encountering only passive resistance from residents as they carried them individually down a firetruck's ladder.

Police spokesman at the scene Thilo Cablitz said some 1,500 police had been called out to aid in clearing the so-called Liebig 34 squat in the capital's Friedrichshain neighborhood, named after its address, Liebigstrasse 34.

An armored car sat out front of the graffiti-festooned building and police kept onlookers at a wide distance for a relatively calm scene as the operation began at about 7 a.m.

Police entered the building after residents refused to open the door for a court employee to deliver their eviction notice.

Some residents pumped their fists in the air as they were led down a ladder from an upper level by police, others forced police to carry them out.

On the distant peripheries, supporters of the residents threw firecrackers and bottles at the police. Cablitz said other protests had been peaceful.

The building has been partially occupied for 30 years and subject to many court battles before the residents were finally ordered out of the apartments they had taken over.

As one of Berlin's best-known squats it is a symbol for the left-wing scene in the capital, and police were braced for possible violence throughout the city.