Occupy Wall Street Protesters Can Stay At Zuccotti Park After Owners Postpone Cleanup
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The occupation will continue, for now.
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The mayor’s office released a statement at around 6:30 a.m., saying that the owners of Zuccotti Park decided to postpone their planned 7 a.m. cleanup of the park.
However, on his weekly WOR Radio show, Bloomberg said Brookfield Properties could still go ahead with an official cleanup if a compromise can’t be reached with protesters.
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Brookfield Office Management, the owners of the park, said they are “Withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation,” according to a statement from Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway.
“Our position has been consistent throughout: the City’s role is to protect public health and safety, to enforce the law, and guarantee the rights of all New Yorkers. Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown, and we will continue to monitor the situation,” the statement said.
Bloomberg said that as of 8 o’clock Thursday night, Brookfield Properties was going forward with the cleaning, but by midnight they had decided to postpone it.
“I think what happened, my understanding is, that Brookfield got lots of calls from many elected officials threatening them,” said his honor on his WOR-AM radio show Friday.
Police commissioner Ray Kelly had made it crystal clear to WCBS 880 that it would be Brookfield personnel, not the NYPD, who would be directing the protesters within the park, which is private property.
The commissioner told WCBS 880 that the NYPD would stand by “to make certain the peace is maintained.”
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“It’s a total victory,” said one demonstrator. “The mass of people in the United States supports this and they’re going to look bad if they break this up.”
One demonstrator wasn’t convinced of the motive behind the postponement, calling it a ploy to catch protesters off guard.
“I wouldn’t put too much stock in the fact that they’re not going in today,” he told 1010 WINS’ John Montone. “The announced it too publicly. I think it’s a fake out.”
Video: Protesters Learn About Postponment
Protesters rejoiced when hearing the news of the postponed clean up, chanting “The people, united, will never be defeated” and “We are the 99 percent!”
When they took to the streets to march toward Wall Street in celebration many demonstrators clashed with police. Several arrests had been made.
The protestors have been living in Zuccotti Park for the past 27 days.
Thursday, the park’s owners distributed flyers making it clear that sleeping bags, tents and tarps would not be welcome. Similarly, lying on benches or the pavement would also not be allowed.
Some protesters said that amounted to an eviction notice.
Hip Hop mogul Russell Simons took to Twitter Thursday to make a personal appeal to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Dear @MikeBloomberg — I will pay for clean-up of Zuccotti Park to avoid confrontation. I don’t wanna go to jail but I will be there ready!” Simmons tweeted.
Thursday night, members of the Occupy Wall Street movement marched to City Hall with thousands of petitions in an effort to put a halt to this morning’s clean-up. They worked late into the night cleaning up the park, wielding soapy brooms and piling trash on the curb.
Yetta Kurland, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, said the city could have been breaking the law if they had forced an evacuation of Zuccotti Park without a court order.
“Their fundamental rights to be able to utilize the park and to express their opinions and exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Kurland.
Now that the protest will continue, that means their planned activities will be going forward.
Protesters have planned a “Family Sleep Over” in the park, set to start at 4 p.m.
The weekend looks as though it may be a busy one for the demonstrators, with several events and marches planned for Saturday.
Though it seems a potential crisis at Zuccotti Park has been averted for now, on Thursday, public advocate Bill de Blasio said city officials shouldn’t ignore the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“It’s up the mayor and everyone at City Hall now to change course,” he said. “To sit down with the people from Occupy Wall Street and find a peaceful way forward.”
What do you make of the decision? Sound off in our comments section.