NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly had some strong words for “Occupy Wall Street” protesters Thursday, blaming participants for starting skirmishes which led to more than 20 arrests on Wednesday.
“What they did is they counted. They actually had a countdown — 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 — they grouped together, they joined arms and they charged the police. They attacked the police. They wanted to get into Wall Street, they wanted to occupy Wall Street,” Kelly told reporters.
Police arrested 28 people Wednesday — mostly for disorderly conduct. There was at least one arrest for assaulting a police officer and police said one protester even knocked an officer off his scooter.
Kelly said that if demonstrators targeted the police, authorities would respond with “force.”
“They’re going to be met with force when they do that — this is just common sense,” he said.
The commissioner said protesters were told to stay within the barricades that police had erected and when they crossed over them they began hassling the cops.
“These people wanted to have confrontation with the police for whatever reason. Somehow, I guess it works to their purposes,” Kelly said.
The commissioner told reporters that the protests have cost the city about $2 million in overtime for officers assigned to cover the demonstrations.
Despite the clashes and arrests, Kelly stressed that as long as protesters followed the rules, there would be no issues.
“We are accommodating peaceful protests. We are proud of the fact that we do that in this city. People are going to be here for an extended period of time. We’re going to accommodate them as long as they do it peacefully and in accordance with the laws and regulations,” he said.
The problem for the city and the police is even if they wanted to, they can’t evict “Occupy Wall Street” as long as they make Zuccotti Park their headquarters. It is private space that must be opened to the public
“The charter, it gives access to the park 24 hours a day, seven says a week,” Kelly said.
When asked by CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer if there was an end game, his response was carefully considered.
“You know, we’ll see. Right now they’re on private property and people who own that property don’t have the power to eject them,” he said.
But Brookfield Office Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park, seems to be slowly building a case against protesters, saying Thursday that the protestors are interfering with the use of the park by others and are creating sanitary problems.
“Sanitation is a growing concern,” Brookfield said in a statement. “Normally the park is cleaned and inspected every weeknight. . . because the protestors refuse to cooperate. . .the park has not been cleaned since Friday, September 16th and as a result, sanitary conditions have reached unacceptable levels.”
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