NYC: police evict Occupy Wall Street encampment

Some 500 of police officers, many in riot gear, descended on Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park after midnight the night of Nov. 14, in a surprise sweep of the Occupy Wall Street encampment. Police handed out notices to occupiers ordering them to evacuate the park, supposedly to be allowed to return after a cleaning—but without their tents and equipment. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office simultaneously Tweeted: “Occupants of Zuccotti should temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps. Protestors can return after the Park is cleared.” Police began tearing up the tents and confiscating equipment at about 1:45 AM after throwing press out of the park. The books in the camp’s library were thrown into the street. Blocks around the park were sealed off as supporters began converging on the scene from around the city. Occupiers initially resisted eviction, locking arms amid chants of “Whose park? Our park!” At least 70 were arrested, as a core group of about 100 dug in around the kitchen area in the middle of the park. There were unconfirmed reports of police using tear gas or pepper spray to dislodge these, at least some of whom apparently remained in the park as dawn approached.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly was on the scene closely directing the action. Helicopters circled above, directing their searchlights on the park and surrounding area, as convoys of police-escorted sanitation tracks made their way down Broadway to haul away the debris from the eviction. Evicted protesters and their supporters were pushed up Broadway by police, and reconvened at Foley Square and other points. There was talk of establishing an encampment at Foley Square or at Juan Pablo Duarte Square at Canal St. and 6th Ave. until Zuccotti Park is reopened. Occupiers were preparing a “Shut Down Wall Street” action on Nov. 17 to mark the two-month point of the encampment, which authorities were likely trying to head off with the eviction. (Gothamist, NYT, NBC New York, MSNBC, BBC News, World War 4 Report on the scene, Nov. 15)

See our last posts on the Occupation movement and the struggle in New York City.

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  1. Battle in the courts for Zuccotti Park
    New York Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings this morning issued an order allowing protesters to return—with their tents and equipment—to Zuccotti Park. Ironically, the Bloomberg administration said they had started to allow protesters back in to the park, but had police seal it off again after Billings’ order came down as city attorneys filed a challenge to it. Police also cleared a vacant lot owned by Trinity Church at Canal Street and 6th Ave., where protesters had established a new camp. About two dozen were arrested there—including at least four journalists from the Daily News, Associated Press and other media outlets.

    Police commissioner Kelly now says that nearly 200 people were arrested overnight—142 in the park and 50 to 60 in the streets nearby. Most were held on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest—including City Council member Ydanis Rodríguez from upper Manhattan. At present, protesters are again massing at Zuccotti, awaiting a decision on whether the restraining order will be upheld. (NYT, Gothamist, DNAInfo, Nov. 15)

  2. City wins in court, cops control Zuccotti Park
    New York state supreme court Judge Michael Stallman overturned the restraining order that National Lawyers Guild attorneys had won for the OWS encampment. Occupiers may now return to Zuccotti Park—but without tents or equipment, and may not camp there overnight. At 5:30 PM, after the decision came down, police began allowing protesters back in to the park, single file. (Bloomberg, Nov. 16; NYT, Nov. 15)

  3. LRAD at Zuccotti Park?
    Keith Olbermann‘s claim that police used a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) “audio cannon” to clear out Zuccotti Park is backed up by an account in the Queens Courier. As Olbermann takes great glee in pointing out, it’s rather an irony, considering that noise complaints were cited as a justification for clearing the encampment…

  4. NYPD trash OWS library
    From The Guardian, Nov. 23:

    When police seized an estimated 5,000 books from Occupy Wall Street’s “People’s Library” during the eviction of the camp at Zuccotti Park on 15 November, it drew condemnation from a host of writers and organisations, including the American Library Association and author Salman Rushdie.

    The staff of Michael Bloomberg, the New York mayor who ordered the eviction, attempted to defuse the row by promising that property from Zuccotti Park “including the OWS library” was safely stored at a sanitation department garage and could be collected.

    But when the librarians arrived to survey what remained of the books, some signed copies given by authors, including one donated the previous day by Philip Levine, the US poet laureate, they found “it was clear the books had been treated as trash”, they said.

    At an emotional press conference on Wednesday, the librarians laid the torn and damaged books they were able to recover from the garage on a table taking up much of a cramped room in an office block in Madison Avenue.

    It was a sorry sight. Only 1,273 books—a third of the stock—were returned to them, they said, and around a third of those were damaged beyond repair. Only about 800 are still usable. About 2,900 books are still unaccounted for.