The proposed cleanup of Zuccotti Park by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which was seen by many of the Occupy Wall Street protesters as the first step to disbanding the protesters, was canceled early Friday morning. The news was greeted by cheers from the crowd. Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said the owners of the private park, Brookfield Office Properties, made the decision to put off the cleaning.
“Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park – Brookfield Properties – that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation,” the deputy mayor’s statement said.
Many feared the cleaning would lead to a confrontation between the police and protesters, who vowed to stay put. In celebration, several hundred Occupy protesters marched down Broadway a block from Wall St.
The fears of a confrontation turned out to be prophetic, as 14 protesters were arrested and according to New York Magazine’s Daily Intel, the NYPD confrontations turned violent.
Check out these videos from Friday morning:
Here is another view of the same incident:
According to CNN iReport: “An NYPD officer repeatedly runs over the leg of a legal observer with his motorcycle. As the observer lies writhing and screaming on the ground, the cop gets off his motorcycle and proceeds to drag the man about 5 feet and then puts him under arrest with a baton to the neck. This was a peaceful protest, and then the police decided to drive motorcycles through crowds of people to keep them from marching.”
The company’s rules, which haven’t been enforced, have been this all along: No tarps, no sleeping bags, no storing personal property on the ground. The park is privately owned but is required to be open to the public 24 hours per day.
In a last-ditch bid to stay, protesters had mopped and picked up garbage. While moving out mattresses and camping supplies, organizers were mixed on how they would respond when police arrived.
Many protesters said the only way they would leave is by force. Organizers sent out a mass email Thursday asking supporters to “defend the occupation from eviction.”
Word on the street is that police are coming with flexicuffs to Zuccotti Park and looking to reign in the celebratory marchers on Broadway, NBC News reports. According to the NBC New York Twitter account, traffic on Broadway has been shutdown and “4 people arrested in NY as ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protesters march to Wall Street, gather under Stock Exchange.”
CBS News notes: “Police motorcycles in a V-like formation moved toward the protesters in the standoff. One man lost his balance and was run over by a police motorcycle. Police descended on the protester and got him out from under the bike, but violence broke out. Radio station WINS-AM reported that police descended on some protesters, wielding their nightsticks and batons. A police captain reportedly hurled his megaphone and wound up rolling around in the street with a protester. A WINS-AM reporter said he was pushed around by police.”
The protesters quickly returned to the relative safety of Zuccotti Park.
At the moment, things seem fairly tame, as evidenced by the livestream of the protesters, but as with these things, they can get out of hand fairly quickly. The crowds are chanting and there seems to be a nervous energy permeating throughout the crowd.
Dustin Slaughter, who is among those protesters, has a great photo collection developing on Twitter.
A spokesman for Bloomberg, whose girlfriend is a member of Brookfield’s board of directors, had said Thursday that Brookfield had requested the city’s assistance in maintaining the park.
“We will continue to defend and guarantee their free speech rights, but those rights do not include the ability to infringe on the rights of others,” Bloomberg spokesman Marc La Vorgna said, “which is why the rules governing the park will be enforced.”
As for now, the perceived backing down of Bloomberg, the park owners and the city of New York, has given a morale boost to the OWS protesters.
You know whose morale won’t be boosted by this? Crazy people like SNL alum/Tea Party lunatic Victoria Jackson. She brought her schtick to the protests and just ended up looking like a bigger jackass for doing so. For most of this 15-minute video, she spends her time interviewing just two men — one of whom doesn’t seem to be involved in the protests at all. Kudos bar.
We’ll update as this develops…
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