NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For the first time in two months, protesters are occupying a tent-free Zuccotti Park but now, in smaller numbers.
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A judge ruled against the Occupy Wall Street protesters on Tuesday, saying they could return to Zuccotti but without their sleeping bags, tarps and tents.
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In a four-page ruling, Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman said that the protesters’ First Amendment rights didn’t entitle them to camp out in the plaza indefinitely.
“Yeah it’s kind of every person for themselves right now,” said protester Stephen Boyer. “Some people went to a shelter, some are staying with friends.” I’m staying with friends right now.”
Only a few dozen protesters wrapped in ponchos were sitting in the park early Wednesday morning, chanting the occasional protest slogan as police looked on.
“It’s very empowering to know that even though they came in and took everything that we had and the home that we built is gone, now the spirit is still there,” said protester Alisha Filliger.
Bloomberg said the protest had become a public health and safety issue. Police arrested those who refused to leave, more than 140 people.
“There’s definitely a profound sense of loss and anger and sort of disbelief,” said protester Jessica Lingel.
But the new rules aren’t just against tents and sleeping bags. The park’s owners, Brookfield Properties, have posted signs around the park prohibiting lying down on benches, walkways and other seating areas that “unreasonably interferes with the use” of those areas by others.
A group of protesters took refuge at a nearby McDonald’s to take a nap or just get out of the cold.
Some local churches also opened their doors to demonstrators, giving them a place to rest their heads and provided them with breakfast in the morning.
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“To see them warm and comfortable, talking with each other. One person slept 12 hours,” said Jacqui Lewis with Middle Collegiate Church. “They’re exhausted, so it’s very gratifying.”
“I’m kind of disappointed that we couldn’t stay in the park and I’m glad someone was nice to put us up,” said protester Chris Harnden. “I’ve had the most peaceful night sleep I’ve had in a month.”
But despite the loss of their camp, many say they’re not giving up.
“I would say this is a success, back in the park,” said protester Malory Butler. “No one backed down.”
“Everybody seems to be in really good spirits,” said Oscar Guinn.
“This is just the beginning,” said protester Marvin James. “He can take a park away but he can’t destroy the idea.”
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