New York Mayor Bloomberg Clears Out Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street

Té / 16 November 2011

New York’s mayor Tuesday defended the pre-dawn clearing of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, saying ‘inaction was not an option’ as the nearly 2-month-old set-up became packed with tents and concerns grew that fires and other hazards could erupt. Police in riot gear moved into Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan shortly after officers handed out notices to protesters at about 1 a.m. warning them the park was about to be cleared. It said residents could return after a clean-up but that they would no longer be permitted to set up tents, bring in sleeping bags, or camp there 24/7.

Update: New York Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman denied a motion by protesters to be allowed back into Zuccotti Park with their gear and tents. He also did not extend a temporary restraining order issued by Justice Lucy Billings, which would have allowed protesters to maintain their encampment and property in Zuccotti Park.

Editor’s note: In response to the sudden eviction of Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park, Justice Lucy Billings issued a temporary restraining order against mayor Bloomberg which required reopening the park and allowing tents. The mayor denies being served the restraining order and says he will keep the park closed.

"Protesters have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags. Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement, promising that the privately owned park would reopen later Tuesday. Police said they had cleared it by about 4:30 a.m.

Throughout the night, a police helicopter could be heard thundering above the area. Live video showed some protesters pulling down their own tents and leaving, but it also showed police dumping tents and other belongings into a huge pile to be taken away. Protesters were told they could retrieve their belongings later.

Bloomberg said the city acted in coordination with Brookfield Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park and which until Tuesday had let protesters remain there. "At Brookfield’s request, members of the NYPD and Sanitation Department assisted in removing any remaining tents and sleeping bags. This action was taken at this time of day to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood," Bloomberg said.

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