NYPD Clears Occupy Wall Street Campers From Zucotti Park

New York Police dealt a major blow to Occupy Wall Street overnight.

Mere hours ago, in the middle of the night, New York City Police moved in and cleared the campers out of the park that had become the center of the Occupy Wall Street movement:

Hundreds of New York City police officers cleared Zuccotti Park of the Occupy Wall Street protesters early Tuesday, arresting dozens of people there after warning them that the nearly two-month-old camp would be “cleared and restored” before the morning and that any demonstrator who did not leave would be arrested.

The protesters, about 200 of whom have been staying in the park overnight, initially resisted with chants of “Whose park? Our park!” as officers began moving in and tearing down tents. The protesters rallied around an area known as the kitchen, near the middle of the park and began building barricades with tables and pieces of scrap wood.

Over the next two hours, dozens of protesters left the park, while a core group of about 100 dug in around the food area. Many locked arms and defied police orders to leave. By 3 a.m., dozens of helmet-clad officers, watched over by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, closed in on the remaining protesters. They pulled them out one protester at a time and handcuffed them. Most were walked out without incident.

The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, told The Associated Press that 70 people had been arrested in the park, including some who had chained themselves together.

The officers had gathered between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges earlier and rode in vans to the one-square-block park. They entered about 1 a.m.

As they did, dozens of protesters linked arms and shouted “No retreat, no surrender,” “This is our home” and “Barricade!”

The mayor’s office sent out a message on Twitter at 1:19 a.m. saying: “Occupants of Zuccotti should temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps. Protesters can return after the park is cleared.” Fliers handed out by the police at the private park on behalf of the park’s owner, Brookfield Properties, and the city, spelled out the same message.

A number of other arrests were reported just outside the park, as police tried to move supporters of the protesters away from the park. Details were not immediately available. There were several additional arrests after the park was cleared when protesters who refused to leave a nearby street were taken into custody.

The police move came as organizers put out word on their Web site that they planned to “shut down Wall Street” with a demonstration on Thursday to commemorate the completion of two months of the beginning of the encampment, which has spurred similar demonstrations across the country.

The move also came hours after a small demonstration at City Hall on Monday by opponents of the protest, including local residents and merchants, some of whom urged the mayor to clear out the park.

Before the police moved in, they set up a battery of klieg lights and aimed them into the park. A police captain, wearing a helmet, walked down Liberty Street and announced: “The city has determined that the continued occupation of Zuccotti Park poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard.”

The captain ordered the protesters to “to immediately remove all private property” and said that if they interfered with the police operation, they would be arrested. Property that was not removed would be taken to a sanitation garage, the police said.

This appears to be the same kind of cleaning operation that was aborted by the NYPD near the beginning of the protests and it’s unclear if allowing the protesters to return to the park means that they’ll also be able to camp out overnight again. If they will be, then the point of the operation is a bit puzzling, to be honest.

Update: Based on this statement from Mayor Bloomberg, it would appear that the police do not intend the camp to be re-created, which ought to make continuing this protest in the coming weeks much harder:

At one o’clock this morning, the New York City Police Department and the owners of Zuccotti Park notified protesters in the park that they had to immediately remove tents, sleeping bags and other belongings, and must follow the park rules if they wished to continue to use it to protest. Many protesters peacefully complied and left. At Brookfield’s request, members of the NYPD and Sanitation Department assisted in removing any remaining tents and sleeping bags. This action was taken at this time of day to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighbourhood.

Protesters were asked to temporarily leave the park while this occurred, and have been told that they will be free to return to the park once Brookfield finishes cleaning it later morning. Protesters – and the general public – are welcome there to exercise their First Amendment rights, and otherwise enjoy the park, but will not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags, or tarps and, going forward, must follow all park rules.

The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day. Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with, as the park has been taken over by protesters, making it unavailable to anyone else.

From the beginning, I have said that the City had two principal goals: guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protesters’ First Amendment rights.

But when those two goals clash, the health and safety of the public and our first responders must be the priority.

That is why, several weeks ago the City acted to remove generators and fuel that posed a fire hazard from the park.

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 protesters 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.

The park had become covered in tents and tarps, making it next to impossible to safely navigate for the public, and for first responders who are responsible for guaranteeing public safety. The dangers posed were evident last week when an EMT [emergency medical technician] was injured as protesters attempted to prevent him and several police officers from helping a mentally ill man who was menacing others. As an increasing number of large tents and other structures have been erected, these dangers have increased. It has become increasingly difficult even to monitor activity in the park to protect the protesters and the public, and the proliferation of tents and other obstructions has created an increasing fire hazard that had to be addressed.

Some have argued to allow the protesters to stay in the park indefinitely – others have suggested we just wait for winter and hope the cold weather drove the protesters away – but inaction was not an option. I could not wait for someone in the park to get killed or to injure another first responder before acting. Others have cautioned against action because enforcing our laws might be used by some protesters as a pretext for violence – but we must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws.

Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest, but rather to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others. There have been reports of businesses being threatened and complaints about noise and unsanitary conditions that have seriously impacted the quality of life for residents and businesses in this now-thriving neighbourhood. The majority of protesters have been peaceful and responsible. But an unfortunate minority have not been – and as the number of protesters has grown, this has created an intolerable situation.

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 – nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law. There is no ambiguity in the law here – the First Amendment protects speech – it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.

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.

Let me conclude by thanking the NYPD, FDNY, and the Department of Sanitation for their professionalism earlier this morning. Thank you.

CNN is reporting that the city has already posted signs at the park stating that there would be a 10pm nightly curfew and that no tents or sleeping bags allow in the park. Meanwhile, the protesters who were cleared out of the park are gathered a few blocks away at Foley Square apparently deciding what to do next. You can rest assured that camping at Foley Square won’t be permitted as that area is near City Hall as well as courthouses for New York State and the Federal Government. For simple reasons of security, I doubt the authorities would let happen there what happened at Zucotti Park. That, it would appear, is that.

Photo via The New York Times

FILED UNDER: US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Peacewood says:

    They won’t be. Tents will not be allowed back into the park, which basically means no camping (with the onset of winter).

  2. James H says:

    I’ve read that press were evidently pushed back from the clearing. That part is at least minorly disturbing.

  3. Herb says:

    As with Iraq, the occupation becomes less about achieving real world goals and more about perpetuating the occupation….

    Sad.

  4. bandit says:

    “This is our home”

    The combination of stupidity and entitlement is mind boggling

  5. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    I’m only surprised the cops didn’t need HAZMAT suits to deal with the stench.

  6. Hey Norm says:

    Actually a Judge has now ordered the park back open…at least pending a hearing to settle the issues.
    OWS has already accomplished something momentous…turning the national political and economic conversation away from an imaginary debt crisis and towards the very real crisis…jobs, and demand. Even so-called republicans are suddenly talking about income in-equality as if they had cared about the bottom 99% all along. Of course they did….
    A valid question is how does OWS keep the pressure, and thus the focus, on these important issues…without doing more harm than good from a PR standpoint. On the other hand…protesters of the 60’s and 70’s did some harm too…but they also changed the world for the better…right up until Reagan started a 30 year war on the middle-class that is.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:
    When I visited Zucotti Park it was spotless. The flower gardens were perfectly clean, the sidewalks were clean.

  8. Drew says:

    “…right up until Reagan started a 30 year war on the middle-class that is.”

    That’s interesting. The New York Times published a graph of productivity, avg. hourly wage and avg. hourly compensation. Productivity and wages clearly decoupled in the eraly 60’s, no doubt due to benefits becoming a greater portion of total compensation. However, productivity and total compensation clearly decoupled in the early to mid-70’s.

    For such a dolt that Ronald Reagan certainly was a crafty guy, what with him creating income shiftsa good 6-8 years before taking office. Amazing.

  9. Drew says:
  10. michael reynolds says:

    @Drew:

    OWS has repeatedly and consistently asked for the right to bring in porta-potties at their own expense. The Wall Street billionaire mayor refused, so that Breitbart could get video like this, so that the movement could be discredited in the eyes of people like yourself who evidently have no objection to being manipulated so long as your prejudices are confirmed.

  11. James in LA says:

    @Drew: So what? What about it? We all have to go, quit pretending like you don’t and yours doesn’t stink. What does a needed biological function have to do with the facts underlying the protests? You see what you want to see because you want to see sh*t and nothing else. You are fixated on where people relieve themselves to the point you even have a link handy.

    Well, too bad. You do not have to like it. A judge has ordered the city to back off, and rightly so.

    OWS isn’t going anywhere. They have the majority. Also, ACA mandate also enjoys a majority for the first time.

    Or would you rather tell another dookey-story? How old are you?

  12. Liberty60 says:

    From the standpoint of an organizer, this is good news; as we have mentioned in other threads, the protests need a shift to new tactics, and this will give a good rallying cry.

    OWS had lost the media focus over the past week or so, and this, coming as it does only days before alarge rally on Thursday, will help to refocus attention on the battle between the 1% like Bloomberg and the rest of us.

  13. Hey Norm says:

    Drew…
    A link would be nice…

  14. john personna says:

    @Drew:

    You understand that productivity growth is also a reduction in employment, right?

    When all companies can reduce their workforce, it’s hard to “make it up in volume.”

    (Re. OWS-NY, they probably did make a strategic error when they did not “declare victory, go home.”)

  15. john personna says:

    (For a long time we did think productivity growth brought unquestioned benefits. We thought, or hoped, that as companies found ways to earn more with each employee they’d expand production, with even more employees … rather than downsizing the workforce and keeping the production in bounds.

    But think about it, how many dishwashers can one family own? What happens when it takes fewer people to make one dishwasher? Fewer workers.)

  16. john personna says:

    @Hey Norm:

    Here’s a link, Norm:

    Overproductive and underemployed

    “America’s labour productivity is soaring, but its labour market is stagnant. The economy—“new” or otherwise—is working well below its full potential”

  17. Liberty60 says:

    @john personna: I actually was a Reagan fan during the 80’s.

    And I enthusiastically voted for him, waiting anxiously for the government to shrink in size and scope.
    I waited for the economy to boom, for the middle class to prosper, for Americans to enjoy the financial security and independence that unfettered capitalism would bring.

    I waited, and waited.

    I waited some more, then a bit longer, like Charlie Brown in the pumpkin patch.

    The government grew and grew, larger and larger. The middle class sagged, then shrank and grew weaker.

    Somewhere during Clinton’s term, I think it was when Newt was campaigning against the dread existential threat of the Penis, that I grew disgusted with the dishonesty and fecklessness of the conservative movement.

    They never were about limited government, or the deficit, or prosperity, or anything other than enriching the banks and 1% who control the GOP.

  18. Hey Norm says:

    Drew…
    http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12485
    In addition to issues raised by this report, critical investment has been stymied. Investment in infrastructure that provides jobs…the infrastructure that the previous generation built has been allowed to crumble in order to pay for historically low tax rates. Investment in schools that help lift the less-fortunate has been reduced in order to pay for historically low tax rates. The right to collectively bargain has been attacked at every turn.
    The conservative project…eliminate regulation and slash taxes…is directly responsible for the state of the economy today. It’s time for some sanity…

  19. john personna says:

    A couple recent tidbits … first, you’ve probably all seen the Occupy Wall Street vs. the Tea Party chart, but note party representation. As much as the right would like to see it as a manifestation of the traditional left, it is actually a 70% independent movement. Youthful and independent. Those are the keys.

    Also, Youth Unemployment in United States in Line With Arab Spring Countries

  20. Drew says:

    Michael – if you watched the video you would have heard the maker of the film note that there was a porta pottie about ten feet away. I think a more considered response, if you really believe what you say, is that the vast majority of these fine folks let a minority discredit them with all of the neanderthal behavior that has been reported at any number of these OWS sites. And then the question would be: why did you guys let that happen? Its self immolation.

    Hey Norm – the graph was produced in a piece by my wealth manager, simply citing the Times. I suppose you could adopt the position that I’m lying, or the CIO of my wealth management firm is lying, or even that bastion of hyper-conservative propaganda: The New York Times is lying. Sorry I don’t have a date of the edition where it was published, but you might do well to consider that other macro-econo-forces have been at work for decades, and stop with “its all Reagan’s fault.”

    JP – “You understand that productivity growth is also a reduction in employment, right?” You cheapen yourself, as always, with stuff like that.

    Hey Norm – infrastructure etc has been underinvested in to pay for transfer payments, not lower taxes. That is, legitimate government functions have been neglected to buy votes. Just print out graphs of transfer payment spending, defense spending and taxes as a ratio to some sort of appropriate measure of total US economic capacity. And in case you haven’t heard, the looming transfer payment called Medicare dwarfs any possible taxation scheme. I’m sorry this conflict with your worldview.

  21. Liberty60 says:

    @Hey Norm:
    The conservative project took power in 1980.

    Ever since that time, at the federal, state, and local level, we have pursued a more-or-less conservative vision- taxes have progressively grown more regressive, spending has tilted towards police and defense, regulations have been weakened, and labor has been broken.

    It doesn’t matter whether it was Democrats or Republicans in charge; the same underlying ideology was in place. There hasn’t been an activist liberal administration at any significant level in the last 40 years.

    Which is all to say that the conservative project has had its fair shot, and has failed.

    Or I should say, it has failed the middle class. It has wildly succeeded the 1%. But there isn’t any possible way to claim that conservatism has shown any real benefit to the middle class, the much-vaunted “silent majority” in whose name they claim to operate.

  22. Hey Norm says:

    @ Liberty 60…
    Ultimately it is not the size of government that is important to me…the population keeps growing and so the size of government will grow as well.
    It’s about SMART government and reducing the REACH of government. We do not need government reaching into our bedrooms…we do need them doing an excellent job of regulating deep sea drilling so spills like the BP spill are infrequent and manageable.
    This is lost on so-called republicans and libertarians in search of bumper-sticker slogans.

  23. bandit says:

    The Wall Street billionaire mayor refused, so that Breitbart could get video like this,

    Yeah that’s why he did it dumbass

  24. ponce says:

    The wingnuts have been declaring OWS over every.single.day for the past two months.

    Helps explain the popularity of Republicans like George W. Bush and Herman Cain.

  25. john personna says:

    @Drew:

    JP – “You understand that productivity growth is also a reduction in employment, right?” You cheapen yourself, as always, with stuff like that.

    Well, I consistently link to supporting data (in this case an Economist analysis piece) , and you consistently wave off … everything outside your insular little world, really.

  26. Gustopher says:

    That, it would appear, is that

    Forcing the OWS crowd to refocus, right before the weather gets cold enough that the encampment would have withered and crapped out on its own was probably a mistake, if the goal was for them to just go away and be quiet.

  27. Gustopher says:

    @bandit — and why would you say that Bloomberg hasn’t allowed port-a-potties? If it is not to deliberately create unsanitary conditions, then what is it?

  28. Drew says:

    This is interesting:

    “…taxes have progressively grown more regressive,”

    This very blogsite has published several times studies showing exactly the opposite…………….and we have 47% of the population paying no fed income taxes.

  29. Nightrider says:

    Actually seems like a windfall for the OWS. The camp was eventually going to fizzle, so now they can let it go and move on to other more sustainable tactics without having to suffer the end of the camp being portrayed as a failure.

  30. ponce says:

    This very blogsite has published several times studies showing exactly the opposite…

    Can you post a link to just one of them, Drew?

    and we have 47% of the population paying no fed income taxes.

    30 Major Corporations Paid No Income Taxes In The Last Three Years:

    These companies, whose pretax U.S. profits totaled $160 billion over the three years, included: Pepco Holdings (–57.6% tax rate), General Electric (–45.3%), DuPont (–3.4%), Verizon (–2.9%), Boeing (–1.8%), Wells Fargo (–1.4%) and Honeywell (–0.7%).

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/03/360185/30-corporations-no-taxes/

  31. Hey Norm says:

    @ Drew…
    You do understand that most of the 47% that pay no federal income tax pay no federal income tax because they are too f’ing poor to have to pay federal income tax – right?
    You are talkiing about people who make in the neighborhood of $20K a year. What you, and every other person who rants about this 47%, are proposing is that we raise taxes on the poor, the sick, and the elderly. I’m pretty sure that will help our economic situation a great deal.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Drew:

    if you watched the video you would have heard the maker of the film note that there was a porta pottie about ten feet away.

    Well, if you can’t trust the voice-over on a Breitbart video who can you trust? So long as it reinforces your pre-existing beliefs.

    Any knowledge of whether the porta pottie was actually there? Was it useable? Was the man in question even part of OWS or was he a passing street loon? Questions you don’t ask because you prefer to assume.

    majority of these fine folks let a minority discredit them with all of the neanderthal behavior

    Exactly what I’d say about people like Goldman and Lehman and Bear. Their actions bring discredit to the American people. Why don’t we do something about those thieves? Oh, wait, we’re trying, and taking nothing but grief from people like you.

  33. Drew says:

    “Can you post a link to just one of them, Drew?”

    Do your own homework, punk. I’m not here to educate idiots. Go to OTB archives and find it yourself. You’ll be disappointed in the result. But I have no doubt you will not go to the OTB archives, because ignorance is your stock in trade. As I’ve recently noted. This site has become infested with ticks.

    Carry on.

    “30 Major Corporations Paid No Income Taxes In The Last Three Years:”

    Let me assist you here, what with your incoherent thinking and all. No corporation in the history of corporations has ever paid a penny in income tax. That’s because a corporation is a registered piece of paper. The incidence falls on stockholders, customers, suppliers and employees. The only study I’ve ever seen on the incidence places most of it on consumers. Talk about a regressive tax. Perhaps you’d like to place a tax on yacht makers……………and put the employees of yachtmakers out of buisness, just as happened with St. Teddy. Get a clue.

    “You do understand that most of the 47% that pay no federal income tax pay no federal income tax because they are too f’ing poor to have to pay federal income tax – right?
    You are talkiing about people who make in the neighborhood of $20K a year. What you, and every other person who rants about this 47%, are proposing is that we raise taxes on the poor, the sick, and the elderly. I’m pretty sure that will help our economic situation a great deal.”

    This is just pathetically stupid. When people have the right to vote their neighbor’s money to themselves we are finished. The producers and taxpayers, having theirs and clearly of better ability to control events, will simply throttle down, and the expected tax stream will whither. See: Greece or Italy. Secondly, the main beneficiaries of the policy you advocate are the politicians and the politically connected. They attract the favor of the great unwashed with notions of free beer. The only throttle to this morally bankrupt system is that everyone think twice before voting a tax increase.

    The left blathers on and on about “everyone in this together” unless the subject is taxation. Then its the responsibility of others to take on the obligations of every perceived aggrieved party as our national pets. Here Fido. Here Fido. Here’s a bone. Good boy! Good boy!

  34. Rob in CT says:

    This very blogsite has published several times studies showing exactly the opposite…………….and we have 47% of the population paying no fed income taxes.

    This is silly, Drew, because it doesn’t mean what you apparently think it means.

    The ~47% number is mostly due to: 1) high unemployment (normally it’s in the thirties); 2) retirees, students; and 3) poor people.

    Taxes getting more regressive: repeated tax cuts aimed primarily at the upper tiers (includes reducing capital gains taxes and estate taxes*).

    Thus, less progressivity in the system. I really don’t know how you can dispute this. You can claim that it’s a good thing, but to deny it’s even happened is just poor form.

    * – fun fact. I was watching Secretariat the other day. There’s a scene in the film where they are worrying about the estate tax liability after the death of daddy. I googled the estate tax in 1973. The result:

    Exemption amount = $60,000. Initial rate = 3%. Top rate = 77% (over $10,000,000).

    Whereas today:

    For 2011, the federal estate tax exemption will be $5 million and the estate tax rate for estates valued over this amount will be 35%.

    That’s just one example, of course. The trend is clear.

  35. Drew says:

    That was awful, Michael. Just pathetically awful.

    That’s your response? Really?

  36. john personna says:

    @Drew:

    When people have the right to vote their neighbor’s money to themselves we are finished.

    So when would you say market democracies granted this ability to voters? Two hundred plus years ago?

    Explain the contradiction, we are the greatest country on earth, but the way we got here is impossible, right?

  37. Barry says:

    Health and safety of first responders, my *ss. They haven’t suffered any injuries other than wrist, elbow and shoulder sprain due to beating the living sh*t of people who are peacefully protesting.

    It’s like the old joke about Pat Buchanan, that one his uncles was died in a concentration camp – by falling out of a machinegun tower.

  38. Drew says:

    Um, er, jp? 1913. And the tax was 7% on incomes over (in today’s dollars) $10MM.

    Woudth that we could go back to the glories of yesteryear. But of course, we don’t have a spending problem………a taxing problem. Right.

  39. Rob in CT says:

    First off, the income tax first popped up during the Civil War. And it was progressive (mildly so). It went away for a time and was brought back in 1913.

    Even at its most progressive, our tax code still allowed wide wealth disparity. For another, that progressivity peaked some time ago and has been dropping for decades.

    The real problem is that we decoupled spending from taxation. This was the GOP’s idea. The allegedly conservative party decided they could have their cake and eat it too. Lower taxes before cutting spending and if the cuts don’t happen or don’t stick, oh well, we’ll have magical economic growth from the tax cuts so it’ll be ok! Oh, wait… Then demonize the Dems if they raise taxes to pay for the spending. Rinse, repeat. It’s fundamentally dishonest, but popular, so it works.

    Government programs should be funded properly via taxation or they should be cut/eliminated, not only for the good of the government balance sheet, but also because that way voters aren’t shielded from the spending.

  40. john personna says:

    @Drew:

    Tax was not invented with income tax. A tea tax or a whiskey tax, for instance, took money from one group and paid it to another.

  41. Drew says:

    jp –

    You are the King of the Lillupution points.

    Take abstract, arcane or third order points and attempt to construct arguments for serious issues with them. Incredible.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, hope you enjoy your bike ride today……and smug in your infantile commentary.

  42. WR says:

    @Drew: It must be hard being so superior to all those scummy creeps who dare to call themselves Americans when they don’t even have five million dollars to rub together. The pain it must cause you to communicate with people who are so clearly your inferiors in every way. You make it clear exactly how morally superior the wealthy are over everyone else, because the clarity of your thought, the depth of your patience and generosity, and your tolerance for ideas that don’t support your personal well being shine through every word. Oh, that we could all kiss the hem of your garment. You are the Galt we’ve all been waiting for.

  43. john personna says:

    @Drew:

    Climbed a mountain yesterday ;-), off day today.

    But seriously dude, you should be better than the Fox or talk radio level “simplifications.”Was. You complain about problems that worried Jefferson as if they are a sudden or recent concern. But even picking 1913, as you did – are you claim all our best years were over then?