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Judge Rules in Favor of City to Keep OWS From Camping

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HVnews

By HVnews
November 15, 2011 at 8:08 am



According to the New York Daily News, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman has ruled in favor of the city and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s actions to clean out Zuccotti Park.

That means no tents if and when the protesters return to the park. Protesters have every right to move back to Zuccotti Park with restrictions. The ruling mentioned nothing about sleeping bags or protesters sleeping in the park over-night.

Lawyers for Occupy Wall Street have said they are going to read the decision Tuesday night and inform the movement of what they can and cannot do by Wednesday. The lawyers are considering every option, including appealing the decision to a higher court.

A judge backed up Mayor Bloomberg’s clean sweep of Zuccotti Park Tuesday, ruling that the city has the right to keep Occupy Wall Street protestors from camping out in what’s supposed to be a 24-hour open space for all of the public.

The ruling from the bench by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman will likely be appealed so it’s not yet clear whether the city will reopen the park and allow in protestors – without tents.

The city had argued that the protestors had made the park unsafe and dangerous by erecting a warren of tents that made the place a firetrap and kept police from coming inside to enforce the law.

Lawyers for the protestors argued that the city unfairly infringed on their First Amendment rights, noting that the city has allowed others to pitch tents for flea markets in city parks for months at a time without police interference.

The sign above went up on Zuccotti Park about an hour or so before the ruling was handed down. The image comes courtesy of @johnknefel. The sign lays out new rules and regulations for people to use the park, one of the first one explicitly states no tents or camping equipment.

Leading up to the decision the crowd of OWS protesters standing in the rain began chanting “Let us in! Let us in!” over and over again as police denied the protesters reentry to Zuccotti Park. Then an hour went by as both the police and protesters anxiously waited for confirmation one way or the other. Then another hour went by.

It was an intense moment, not unlike when college sports fans wait until the final seconds tick off the clock to rush the football field and tear down the goal posts. They began shouting “uphold your pledge” referring to the police slogan of serving and protecting the public.

Now, however, for the first time in two months, Zuccotti Park, the home base and birthplace of the global #Occupy Wall Street movement, has been unoccupied. Protesters have begun filing back into Zuccotti Park, including Sgt. Shamar Thomas.

The sprawling camp is now, for the most part, one big pile:

And this is what an Unoccupied Zuccotti Park looks like:

Frank Miller must be a happy man. The “louts, thieves, and rapists” are now homeless.

Just after 1 am early Tuesday morning, the NYPD raided Zuccotti Park and destroyed the makeshift tent city that had sprang up over the past two months. A police spokesman said 200 protesters were arrested as part of this police action. Zuccotti Park will re-open to the public after the cleaning, but tents and tarps will not be allowed. Only short-term occupying, please.

The NYPD blocked credentialed media from filming and taking pictures. Maybe they just didn’t want people to be outraged by the tear gas and pepper spray attacks. When reporters tried to get the story, some were roughed up and arrested, according to the New York Times‘ Brian Stelter. At least four reporters have been arrested trying to cover a raid in the dead of night.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a statement on Tuesday morning, explaining why he decided to send the NYPD into Zuccotti Park for decampment: “I have become increasingly concerned – as had the park’s owner, Brookfield Properties – that the occupation was coming to pose a health and fire safety hazard to the protestors and to the surrounding community. 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.”

But a New York judge says the eviction can’t stand. According to the New York Times: “A New York judge on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order allowing protesters to return to Zuccotti Park only hours after police forcibly removed them, arresting dozens. The order by Justice Lucy Billings set a hearing date for Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. and said that until the matter was considered at that hearing, the city and Brookfield Properties, the owners of Zuccotti Park, would be prohibited from evicting protesters or ‘enforcing ‘rules’ published after the occupation began or otherwise preventing protesters from re-entering the park with tents and other property previously utilized.’”

Despite the court order, NYPD officers are not letting protesters re-enter the park. There is currently a tense standoff between police officers and OWS protesters.

A decision is expected at 5 pm ET on whether OWS protesters will be allowed to return with tents.

Here’s some video of police “protecting” protesters, courtesy of John Knefel. It’s weird, from an amateur viewpoint, protecting looks an awful lot like police brutality.

For much of the morning, the #OWS protesters gathered at Foley Square, which is about a half-mile from Zuccotti Park and even closer to City Hall. An #OWS must-follow, @ericweinrib, posted these shots of the early-morning crowd staying strong at Foley Square:

And there is a live Ustream to watch:

Perhaps the biggest transgression on the part of the NYPD is that the officers reportedly tossed the 5,000 loaned books at the #OWS library in the garbage. Why? For what purpose? That, more than anything, is a true moral outrage. Here’s what the library looked like:

“Give Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg credit — he cleared a park and probably revived an occupy movement all at once, and without the tear gas, nightsticks and rubber bullets that seem de rigueur in Oakland,” writes Michael Powell. Take that statement for what you will.

Click Page 2 below for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s full statement on the eviction…

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