Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Police Begin Clearing Zuccotti Park of Protesters

NEW YORK – Hundreds of New York police, some dressed in riot gear, cleared out "Occupy Wall Street" in Zuccotti Park early Tuesday so that sanitation crews could clean the site. Protesters were issued eviction letters and warned they would be arrested if they remained.
The officers arrived just after midnight and handed out letters to protesters ordering them to temporarily evacuate the park. Campers were told to remove their tents and all their belongings, the New York Post reported.

The eviction letters declared, "The city has determined that the continued occupation of Zuccotti Park poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard.
"We also require that you immediately leave the park on a temporary basis so it can be cleared and restored for its intended use.
"You will be allowed to return to the park in several hours, when this work is complete. If you decide to return, you will not be permitted to bring tents, sleeping bags, tarps and similar materials with you."
A man who identified himself as a New York Police Department captain used a bullhorn to order people out of the park, saying repeatedly that a temporary evacuation was necessary to dismantle illegal structures that presented a fire hazard, The Wall Street Journal reported.
At least 400 police officers stood around all sides of the park, where dozens of people remained in place. Public buses operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were seen pulling up to the site, which has been the center of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement for nearly two months.
Protesters responded by chanting "Whose Park? Our Park" and "You don't have to do this." Some protesters positioned near the encampment's kitchen linked themselves together using padlocks.
Just before 2:00am, police began to clear the park more aggressively and knocked over the tent from which protesters had been streaming video from Zuccotti Park. One protester refused to get out of the tent, and three officers in riot gear carried him away wrapped in pieces of tent and tarp.
A video stream continued to broadcast, with nearly 20,000 viewers watching the footage online.
"EVERYONE should get to the park immediately for eviction defense!" the group posted on their website.
Hours before the operation commenced, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, New York City Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano and other officials convened in secret at City Hall to greenlight the campaign to clear the park, sources told the Post.
"They're going to go in and do this because of health violations and the rising crime," said a source.
The NYPD issued a statement to FOX News Channel saying they were not making any arrests and "police are stationed at the park every night."
The raid comes just hours after "Occupy Wall Street" leaders announced their plans to wreak havoc on Thursday by shutting down Wall Street and the subways to mark the renegade group's two-month takeover of Zuccotti Park.
According to their website, the day will include "Mass, Non-violent Direct Action" to "Shut Down Wall Street" at 7:00am, "Occupy the Subways" in all five boroughs at 3:00pm and "Take the Square," referring to Foley Square, at 5:00pm.
The crackdown follows similar eviction notices being issued at protest camps in Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore., in the past few days amid health and safety fears.
Three sets of eviction notices have been issued to campers at "Occupy Oakland" since Friday, with 33 demonstrators arrested after failing to disperse early Monday morning, the Oakland Tribune reported.
Police have maintained a presence at the camp in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, saying people can continue to rally but cannot camp or sleep there.

The mayor’s office sent out a message on Twitter at 1:19 a.m. saying: “Occupants of Zuccotti should temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps. Protesters can return after the park is cleared.” Fliers handed out by the police at the private park on behalf of the park’s owner, Brookfield Properties, and the city, spelled out the same message.

A number of other arrests were reported just outside the park, as police tried to move supporters of the protesters away from the park. Details were not immediately available.

The police move came as organizers put out word on their Web site that they planned to “shut down Wall Street” with a demonstration on Thursday to commemorate the completion of two months of the beginning of the encampment, which has spurred similar demonstrations across the country.

The move also came hours after a small demonstration at City Hall on Monday by opponents of the protest, including local residents and merchants, some of whom urged the mayor to clear out the park.

Before the police moved in, they set up a battery of klieg lights and aimed them into the park. A police captain, wearing a helmet, walked down Liberty Street and announced: “The city has determined that the continued occupation of Zuccotti Park poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard.”

The captain ordered the protesters to “to immediately remove all private property” and said that if they interfered with the police operation, they would be arrested. Property that was not removed would be sent to a dump, the police said.

Some of the protesters grabbed their possessions. “They’re not getting our tents down,” one man shouted. People milled around, and some headed to the edges of the park.

By 1:45 a.m., dozens of officers moved through the park, some bearing plastic shields and wearing helmets. They removed tents and bedding materials, putting them on the sidewalk. Some protesters could be seen l

eaving the park with their belongings, but a core group of more than 100 hunkered down at the encampment’s kitchen area, linking arms, waving flags, and singing and chanting their refusal to leave the park.

They sang “We Shall Overcome,” and chanted at the officers to “disobey your orders.”

“If they come in, we’re not going anywhere,” said Chris Johnson, 32, who sat with other remaining protesters near the food area. He said that the protest “has opened up a dialogue that hasn’t existed since I’ve been alive.

But by 3 a.m., the police closed in on the remaining protesters and began arresting them. About 200 supporters of the protesters arrived early Tuesday after hearing that the park was being cleared. They were prevented from getting within a block of the park by a police barricade. There were a number of arrests after some scuffles between the two sides, but no details were immediately available. After being forced up Broadway by the police, some of the supporters decided to march several blocks to Foley Square.

Several Occupy Wall Street protest encampments across the country have been cleared by police after problems have occurred, including ones in cities like Oakland, Salt Lake City and Portland, Ore.

A handful of protestors first unrolled sleeping bags and blankets in Zuccotti Park on the night of Sept. 17, but in the weeks that followed, the park became densely packed with tents and small tarp villages.

The protest spawned others and attracted celebrities and well-known performers. It became a tourist attraction, inspired more than $500,000 in donations and gained the support of labor unions and elected officials while creating division within City Hall and the Police Department.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has struggled with how to respond. He repeatedly made clear that he does not support the demonstrators’ arguments or their tactics, but he has also defended their right to protest and in recent days and weeks has sounded increasingly exasperated, especially in the wake of growing complaints from neighbors about how the protest has disrupted the neighborhood and hurt local businesses.

Mr. Bloomberg met daily with several deputies and commissioners, and as more business owners complained and editorials lampooned him as gutless, his patience wore thin.

Tags: Lehman Brothers,  Oregon OccupyWe are the 99 percentOccupy PortlandOccupy Wall StreetOccupy Wall Street and the history

1 comment:

  1. Bloomberg's 'elite army' has spoken. Contrary of course to the Bill of Rights and democracy. A 'killing' begun a long time ago, sadly.