CITY CLEARS OWS; ARRESTS: REPORTS PROTESTERS STOCKPILE WEAPONS
|Hundreds of protesters have amassed on the perimeter of Zuccotti Park as they await a judge's decision on whether the city must reopen it to Occupy Wall Street. The men in reflective vests are private security guards reportedly hired by Brookfield, the park's owner. (Via Michael Moore)|
The NYPD arrested 200 protesters as they moved in on Zuccotti Park early this morning and cleared out the thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters who had taken over the space for nearly two months.
Mayor Bloomberg, who called the decision to boot the protesters "mine and mine alone," said protesters would be allowed back into the Lower Manhattan park but not with their tents and sleeping bags.
City Claims Occupy Wall Street Protesters Were Stockpiling Weapons, Fights Court Order To Reopen Park
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway filed a motion on behalf of the city today opposing a court order requiring the NYPD to allow Occupy Wall Street demonstrators back into Zuccotti Park. In filing the motion, Holloway asserted that "people who have a known history of violent interaction with the police” have been gathering in the park, and “makeshift items” that he said could be used as weapons, "such as cardboard tubes with metal pipes inside, had been observed among the occupiers' possessions." He also noted that after the October 1st Brooklyn Bridge march, "knives, mace and hypodermic needles were observed discarded on the roadway."
"It was our understanding that the protesters may have had a significant number of items that could potentially be used as weapons," Halloway writes in the motion, adding that there had been little to no crime in Zuccotti Park before the occupation began, but since there had been "73 misdemeanor and felony complaints" and about 50 arrests. Although the initial order to vacate (see below) promised demonstrators they would be allowed in—though without tents and sleeping bags—Bloomberg is now refusing to comply with the court order, and the park remains closed. A growing throng of demonstrators have gathered around it.
Justice Michael Stallman is expected to issue his decision around 3 p.m. In the meantime, here is Brookfield's letter to Bloomberg, which was sent to the Mayor yesterday. The letter urges the city to intervene in the interest of "public safety" and cites media reports of "violence, outbursts of bigotry, and escalating sanitary conditions."