Tuesday, 15 November 2011

NYC Police Remove OWS Protesters

NEW YORK — Hours after police officers descended on Zuccotti Park in a surprise sweep of the Occupy Wall Street headquarters, protesters were locked in a standoff Tuesday morning with police over a court order that would allow them to return with their tents.


A hearing on the temporary restraining order, filed by a New York City judge, was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET.
In the meantime, however, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Tuesday that he had not received the order and that the park would remain closed "until we can clarify the situation," he said.
Tuesday's court order, which was published on The New York Times website, said authorities were prohibited from "preventing protesters from re-entering the park with tents and other property previously utilized." But Bloomberg closed the park while lawyers reviewed the order.
PhotoBlog: Dispatches from the disputed streets
The park had become a health and fire safety hazard and that "unfortunately ... (it) became a place not to protest, but to break the law," Bloomberg said Tuesday.
"Inaction was not an option," he said. "We could not wait for someone in the park to get killed."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said around 200 were arrested overnight, including dozens who tried to resist by linking arms at the center of Zuccotti Park or chaining themselves together with bicycle locks.


Hundreds of protesters have slept in tents and under tarps since Sept. 17 in Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the protests and the physical symbol of what has grown into a global movement. The park is owned by a real estate developer, New York-based Brookfield Office Properties Inc.
“Conditions in Zuccotti Park had become dangerous, unhealthy and unsafe,” Brookfield said in a statement. “These risks were unacceptable and it would have been irresponsible to not request that the city take action. Further, we have a legal obligation to the city and to this neighborhood to keep the park accessible to all who wish to enjoy it, which had become impossible.”
In Toronto, protesters that have set up camp in St. James Park near Toronto’s financial district over the past 31 days are receiving eviction notices today, according to news network CP24. Demonstrators outside St. Paul’s Cathedral in London held a press conference today to express support for Occupy Wall Street and called for a protest outside the U.S. embassy.
More Operations Planned
The New York police operation came after organizers announced they would mark the two-month anniversary of the movement this week with plans to “shut down Wall Street” and “occupy the subways.”
“Some politicians may physically remove us from public spaces -- our spaces,” activists said in a statement released at 2:25 a.m. local time. “You cannot evict an idea whose time has come.”
The Occupy camps have cropped up in cities nationwide to protest economic disparity. Demonstrators decry high foreclosures and unemployment rates that plague average Americans while large bonuses were issued by U.S. banks after they accepted a taxpayer-funded bailout.
New York Arrests
About 220 people were in the park when police using loudspeakers told protesters to leave or face arrest, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. About 142 people were arrested inside the park and more than 50 outside, Kelly told reporters after the mayor’s press conference. Most arrests were for trespassing and disorderly conduct, Kelly said.
“Those who were arrested wanted to be arrested,” Kelly said. “There was an awful lot of taunting and getting into police officers’ faces.”
Police broke down tents and “destroyed everything” while forcibly removing protesters who had locked arms, said Chris Porter, 26, a welder from Indiana who joined the protest in the park about a month ago.
“We have been in constant contact with Brookfield and yesterday they requested that the city assist it in enforcing the no sleeping and camping rules in the park,” Bloomberg said in a statement before the press conference. “But make no mistake -- the final decision to act was mine.”
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
Kitchen, Library
The one-square block space hosted a medical tent, kitchen area serving three meals a day, library, comfort station doling out underwear, sweaters, pants and blankets, and tables offering media outreach and legal guidance.
Hundreds of protesters arrested last month during a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge are scheduled to start appearing in court today to face disorderly conduct charges.
Before today, more than 900 people had been charged in connection with the protests since mid-September, including about 700 arrested during the Oct. 1 bridge demonstration, according to police.
The demonstrators refer to themselves on signs and in slogans as “the 99 percent,” a reference to Nobel Prize- winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s study showing the richest 1 percent control 40 percent of U.S. wealth.
Oakland Eviction
Oakland police cleared a downtown encampment yesterday after a slaying on Nov. 10. Police in Portland evicted campers at Chapman and Lownsdale squares on Nov. 13 after two people suffered drug overdoses. Salt Lake City banned protesters from staying overnight at Pioneer Park on Nov. 11 after a person was found dead at the camp that morning.
“The people who originally founded the encampments are either no longer there or no longer in control,” Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said yesterday in a telephone interview. “In part of clearing the camp, we moved a lot of the homeless -- they were about half of the residents.”
Deaths, sexual assaults, drug dealing and theft in the tent cities threaten public safety, officials said. The camps have drawn the homeless, street youths and a criminal element, some officials said.
“In the past few days, the balance has tipped,” Portland Mayor Sam Adams said in a Nov. 10 statement. “We have experienced two very serious drug overdoses, where individuals required immediate resuscitation in the camp.”
When protesters began camping in Portland on Oct. 6, “the groups that day were people who have been committed to the movement,” Sergeant Pete Simpson, a spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “Then those people started leaving and the homeless population and street youth began moving in.


Tags: Lehman Brothers,  Oregon OccupyWe are the 99 percentOccupy PortlandOccupy Wall Street Police Begin Clearing Zuccotti,   Occupy Wall Street and the history

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