NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After weeks of alternately defending the right to free speech at Zuccotti, Park Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally cracked down.
He ordered police to evict the protesters.
It wasn’t only the noise or the free-spirited topless dancers who performed for swarms of speechless gawkers, or the serious heath concerns — a potential health menace was brewing as protesters starting coming down with something they call “Zuccotti lung.”
Everything was apparently getting on the mayor’s nerves, but the straw the broke the proverbial camel Bloomberg’s back was the letter from Brookfield Properties, the owners of Zuccotti, demanding action.
“The manner is which the park is being used violates the law,” Brookfield told the mayor Monday. “We are therefore requesting that the city and NYPD enforce the law at the park and support Brookfield in its efforts to enforce the rules established for its use.”
“We have been in constant contact with Brookfield and yesterday they requested that the city assist it in enforcing the no sleeping and camping rules in the park, but make no mistake, the final decision to act was mine,” Bloomberg said Tuesday morning.
The mayor was clearly feeling the heat from other cities that took harsh action against their protesters, but it was harder for him because he is a firm believer in the First Amendment. That’s why what he said Tuesday showed his tolerance was at a low point.
“No right is absolute and with every right comes responsibilities. The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out, but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others,” Bloomberg said.
It is the hope of the mayor and Brookfield that the park will be open to all, including the protesters, but without their sleeping bags and tents.
“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,” Bloomberg said.
City Hall sources told Kramer that the mayor also wanted to act before anyone died in the “Occupy Wall Street” encampment, like they have already done in Vancouver, Salt Lake City, Manchester and Oakland.
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