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)