NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said “Occupy Wall Street” protesters can stay and have their say as long as they’re law-abiding.
But also expressing themselves were the business owners around Zuccotti Park, who are angered over the impact of the Wall Street protests, reports CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
In his strongest comments since protesters began occupying lower Manhattan four weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg made it clear demonstrators can continue to occupy New York City indefinitely, as long as they don’t break the law.
Photos: Wall Street Protests Continue
“The bottom line is people want to express themselves and as long as they obey the laws we’ll allow them to,” Bloomberg said early Monday.
But for some business owners, there’s nothing but outrage. They say the city’s stance on the protest means there is no end in sight to what has rapidly become a living nightmare, reports Brown.
“They want to take showers, want to wash up and use the toilet paper to dry up. It becomes … you gotta have one person assigned just to clean the bathrooms,” said Steve Zamfotis, manager of “Charley’s” restaurant.
Zamfotis, who runs a pizza shop directly across the street from Zuccotti Park, said he has to stand guard at the door — just to keep protesters out.
“They expect everything, everything for free, nothing to pay,” Zamfotis said.
Meanwhile, the protesters are starting to notice folks taking advantage of the demonstration by grabbing some of the free food and clothes that have been made available in Zuccotti Park.
“The tourists take all the food, and the hipsters take all the clothes,” said one demonstrator.
But other businesses are opening their doors — in a show of solidarity.
“Oh no problem. We let them use the bathroom because all the fancy places close the bathrooms for them. Yeah, we leave it open. It’s too much, but what are you gonna do? Everybody has right to use the bathrooms,” said Alfonso Alfi, manager of “Pronto Pizza.”
The private firm that owns Zuccotti Park said it hasn’t been able to clean the park since Sept. 16 and sanitary conditions have become unacceptable.
In a statement the firm said it is working with the city to restore the park to its intended use, but on Monday — from the mayor to the NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly — city brass said they can’t — and won’t — force a stop to this anytime soon.
“As long as people obey the law we’re not stepping in at all,” Kelly said.
Also Monday, a few celebrities stopped by Zuccotti Park to lend their support.
The Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled to broadcast his nationally syndicated radio show “Keepin’ It Real” from Zuccotti Park on Monday.
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks In Zuccotti Park
Media mogul Russell Simmons and actress Susan Sarandon visited the park on Monday. Sarandon told 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks, “This is what democracy looks like … it’s great that anybody cares enough. I’m surprised people weren’t in the street a year ago. I think it’s fabulous.”
Also, a video on YouTube has surfaced showing Jimmy “The Rent Is Too Damn High” McMillan playing guitar and singing a song for the protesters.
In other protest news, a YouTube video, purportedly by the hacker collective known as “Anonymous,” threatened to wipe out the New York Stock Exchange website Monday. However, a message on a YouTube video suggests that the entirety of the the hacker collective does not support the attempt to disable the website. It says some factions of it are going to press forward with the effort.
A company that monitors website response times says The NYSE’s website was hobbled twice Monday, possibly the result of computer attacks.
A San Mateo-based company called Keynote Systems Inc. said the NYSE website experienced a one-minute outage around 3:30 p.m. Eastern, then a half-hour outage about two hours later.
NYSE spokesman Ray Pellecchia said an investigation by the stock exchange showed no disruptions to its website.
What do you make of the Occupy Wall Street protest? Sound off in our comments section.