Occupy Wall Street protesters had been gearing up for a confrontation with law enforcement over a planned clean-up in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park on Friday morning that amounted to an eviction notice. But though there were some arrests made and a few fights with the cops, in the end the protesters were allowed to stay.
The notice went around Thursday and said that beginning Friday morning at 7 a.m., the park would be cleaned over 12 hours. The notice also said that the park would be reopen “consistent with our regulations.” Protesters pointed out that the park’s regulations included “no lying down” and “no sleeping bags,” which basically meant they could not longer camp out in the park.
The protesters said they would refuse to leave and planned to hold a “non-violent eviction defense” beginning at 6 a.m.
But around 6:20 this morning, Deputy Mayor Caswell F. Holloway put out a statement saying that the owners of Zuccotti Park decided to postpone the clean-up. “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,” Holloway said.
According to Mayor Bloomberg, Brookfield wound up backing down because of pressure from local politicans, who “inundated” them with phone calls.
“Brookfield got lots of calls from many elected officials threatening them and saying if you don’t stop this we’ll make your life more difficult,” Bloomberg said on his radio show Friday morning, the Wall Street Journal reports. “If those elected officials would spend half as much time trying to promote the city and get jobs to come here, we would go a long ways to answering the concerns of the protesters.”
So the “non-violent eviction defense” wound up being something of a celebration. People chanted “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street,” “solidarity” and “we are the 99%.” One crowd formed around a group of people playing instruments and singing “We Shall Overcome.”
Members of the UAW and the SEIU were in the crowd.
One protester, wearing the Guy Fawkes mask now associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous, yelled over at the cops: “I still say these wonderful cops need to jump over this fence and join us.” Another protester chatted with an officer about overtime, who said “you guys are paying for my Disney trip next year.”
But there was still the requisite animosity between the protesters and the police, which later manifested itself in several confrontations and a few arrests. At one point when the cops were trying to keep people moving around the perimeter of the park, one protester yelled “fuck off” at them. Others had signs with “NYPD protects and serves the rich.”
As the protesters marched down into the Financial District later in the morning, things turned violent as police arrested several people and reportedly tackled others. According to Bloomberg News, the NYPD counts 14 arrests so far.