Gotham Gazette

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The Day at Zuccotti Park -- and Beyond

Photo by Gail Robinson
As protesters awaiting a court ruling, a heavy police presence kept anyone out of Zuccotti Park for much of the day Tuesday.

Following the early morning police raid that cleared protester from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, events and reaction came quickly . In the hours that followed, maneuvering continued on both side. Demonstrators sought to return to the park as the city held fast to keeping them out.

Our digest of the day's events includes a timeline and links to key coverage and resources. On a separate page, we round up some of the response to the eviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters. To read that, go here.


This was complied from news reports.

1 a.m.: Raid at Zuccotti Park begins.

2:10 a.m.: Press barred from Zuccotti Park.

2:55 a.m.: City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez arrested.

4 a.m.: The park is cleared. Police later report approximately 200 arrests in the park and surrounding streets.

6 a.m.: State Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings issues a temporary restraining order stopping the police from evicting protesters who are not breaking the law and barring people from entering the park with tents. (According to the Daily News, court administrators later took steps to insure that Billings, who spend 25 years as a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, would not be the one deciding on the restraining officer at an afternoon hearing.)

6:45 a.m.: Mayor Michael Bloomberg issues statement on the clearing of the park, saying he and the plaza's owner, Brookfield Properties, had become increasingly concerned about health and safety hazards at the plaza.

7 a.m.: Protesters mass in Foley Square to ponder next steps. They eventually plan to march to a lot on Sixth Avenue and Canal Street.

8 a.m.: Bloomberg holds news conference on the police and sanitation department action clearing Zuccotti Park.

11a.m. Protester cut the lock on a lot at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street owned by Trinity Church and prepare to occupy the space.

12:20 p.m.: Police clear out Duarte Square, the plot on Canal Street that protesters had hoped to occupy. Many of the demonstrators head about a mile south -- to Zuccotti Park.

1:45 p.m.: Hundreds of protesters have returned to the area around Zuccotti Park but are not allowed to enter the plaza itself.

4:46 p.m.: State Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman rejects extension of temporary restraining order that would have allowed protesters to return to Zuccotti Park.

5:45: p.m.: Bloomberg announces that Zuccotti Park is reopen to the public, saying the court's ruling " vindicates our position that First Amendment rights do not include the right to endanger the public or infringe on the rights of others by taking over a public space with tents and tarps."

7 p.m.: Occupy Wall Street General Assembly begins as an estimated 500 protesters -- without tents or sleeping bags -- re-enter the park.

8 p.m.: Police release City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who was arrested during the clearing of Zuccotti Park, after he spent about 20 hours in police custody.

Links in the News: The Police Action

For several hours yesterday Zuccotti Park was empty of protesters -- and anyone else.

After an Earlier Misstep, a Minutely Planned Raid

The operation came after weeks of planning. Police officials watched how the occupations in other cities played out, often with much less tolerance by officers for the social movement -- and with greater degrees of aggressive force. Police commanders in New York held conference calls with colleagues in other cities. They increased so-called disorder training -- counterterrorism measures that involve moving large numbers of police officers quickly -- to focus on Lower Manhattan….

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, squinting in the glare of his department's bright lights, was at the center of the operation, his presence underscoring how the operation was fraught with challenges for the Police Department. There could be no repeat of episodes in recent weeks, like the pepper-spraying of protesters, that violated department rules and created a firestorm of public sympathy for the squatters. (Al Baker and Joseph Goldstein, New York Times)

Last Night at the Zuccotti Barricades

I witnessed several egregious examples of police misconduct. … Two women were arrested while they were marching on the sidewalk a few feet in front of the rest of the march, seemingly unprovoked. There were several instances of police rushing through marchers like deranged rugby players, possibly in an attempt to arrest a specific person on the other side of the group.

This morning showed that Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly are not trying to win a P.R. war or demonstrate restraint. I’ve for the most part defended the NYPD over the past two months. This morning, though, they had a collective viciousness that I haven’t found to be present on a large scale before. (John Knefel, Salon)

First They Came for the Free Press – and the Books

As they cleared the park, New York City police reportedly arrested at least four journalists and dumped more than 5,000 books -- the contents of the Occupy Wall Street Library -- in the dumpster. [The Bloomberg administration said the sanitation department had the books and they had not been destroyed.] (Attytood, Philadelphia Daily News)

Reporters Say Police Denied Access to Protest Site

As New York City police cleared the Occupy Wall Street campsite in Zuccotti Park early Tuesday morning, many journalists were blocked from observing and interviewing protesters. Some called it a "media blackout" and said in interviews that they believed that the police efforts were a deliberate attempt to tamp down coverage of the operation. …

At a news conference after the park was cleared Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended the police behavior, saying that the media was kept away "to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect members of the press." (Brian Stelter, Media Decoder, New York Times)

City Reopens Park After Protesters Are Evicted

"New York City on Tuesday reopened the park in Lower Manhattan where the Occupy Wall Street movement was born not long after a judge upheld the city’s move to clear the park and bar the protesters from bringing back their tents or staying overnight.

"The police opened the gates to Zuccotti Park just after darkness fell and let in a single-file line of people as a crowd surrounded the park. Some chanted, 'Let us in. Let us in.'

"'You have to walk through a gantlet of officers,' said Andy Nicholson, 54, of Manhattan, who entered the park, stopped and was told by the police to move along. 'It's all about control,' he said. " (James Barron and Colin Moynihan, New York Times)

Occupy Wall Street Movement Has No Right to Sleep in Parks "Long before a Manhattan Supreme Court judged ruled against the protesters, the Supreme Court settled the matter of protests camping indefinitely in public parks … with a majority opinion written by JFK-appointee Byron White. While the states have a great deal of latitude in determining their individual rules -- and Zuccotti Park’s odd status as a privately owned public space creates room for debate-- basic property rights are not suspended for protests, no matter how heartfelt." (John Avlon)

Occupy Wall Street Eviction Highlights Manhattan’s Public Spaces

Zuccotti Park is a privately owned public space, which could make it more difficult for protesters to argue they have a constitutional right to occupy it. (Katie Spencer and David M. Levitt, Bloomberg Businessweek)

Links in the News: The Next Steps

Occupy Wall Street Innovator Says Movement Should Start Up in Spring

"Just hours before the raid on Zuccotti Park, the original godfather of Occupy Wall Street - a Canadian anti-capitalist group - advised the protesters it might be time to wind things down for the winter. Adbusters, which first proposed an occupation modeled after Egypt’s Tahrir Square uprising, suggested Monday that the time was coming for the protesters to “declare victory” and scale back." (Helen Kennedy, Daily News)

Occupy Wall Street's Eviction Was a Lucky Break

"The protesters were lucky to be kicked out of Zuccotti last night for two reasons -- the logistical reason and the macro reason. Logistically, these people weren't going to live on the concrete through February, anyway. Eventually, they were going to leave. Last night's raid gives them a banner headline in newspapers across the country and lets this particular occupation with a bang instead of the whimper of a three-month trickle-out. Just as nationwide enthusiasm was starting to wane, the raid reminds the nation where the movement started.

"But the geography of Occupy Wall Street can't become more important than its message. Whether there are tents in Zuccotti Park is secondary to the question of how do you turn a movement veering into a drug-and-violence protest into an inclusive campaign that non-marching liberals can feel a part of?" (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic)

Occupy Wall Street Debates Next Steps

"With or without the park, most Occupy supporters do not appear ready to back down from the momentum the movement has gained through laborious organization, ongoing outreach and visible public actions. 'No one piece of this movement is indispensable, except people -- not even the park,' said [Alejandro Varela, who is active in various OWS working groups and lives in Brooklyn]. 'We need people most of all. Without the park, we’ll just have to be more creative.'" (Rachel Signer, The Nation

After Zuccotti: What Now for Occupy Wall Street?

"If the mayor and the editorial page of the New York Post think the protests will simply fade away, they are deluded. In its short life, Occupy Wall Street has gone from a local sideshow to a national movement, with offshoots in hundreds of towns and cities. Whatever happens next, it has already changed the terms of the political debate, putting rising inequality front and center, which is where it should have been for years. (John Cassidy, The New Yorker)

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Evicted, Grapple with Future of Movement

"Occupy Wall Street activists grappled with the future of their movement after a police raid and a day of legal drama ended their hold on a Manhattan park that had become the symbolic center of the world-wide protest….

"It wasn't clear whether the eviction in New York will end the protest or push it into a new phase that could be harder for police to control. As unruly as the encampment often was, it was easy for police to monitor since it was in a fixed site. (Andrew Grossman, Alison Fox and Sean Gardner, Wall Street Journal)

Clearing a Park and Reviving a Movement

"Give Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg credit -- he cleared a park and probably revived an occupy movement all at once, and without the tear gas, nightsticks and rubber bullets that seem de rigueur in Oakland.

"Anger bubbled around the mayor since he massed his police in the darkness of early Tuesday and descended on the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park. … But Mayor Bloomberg -- the personification for many of Mr. 1 Percent -- shrugged off such talk." (Michael Powell, New York Times)

Links in the News: Other Protests, Other Cities

Occupy Movement: City-by-City Police Crackdowns So Far

The roundup from six U.S. cities.

Could Legal Ploy Scuttle Albany Protest?

"Gov. Andrew Cuomo has urged State Police to enforce a curfew against Occupy Albany protesters in a state-owned park, leading to 39 trespass arrests this weekend, but Albany County District Attorney David Soares is dismissing the charges.

"So what's next? Legally, the governor could appoint Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as a special prosecutor to supersede Soares. (Jimmy Vielkind, Times Union)

Occupy Los Angeles Marches in Solidarity for evicted Protesters

Stirred by live video of the Zuccotti Park eviction, about a hundred protestors from Occupy Los Angeles staged a midnight march through downtown streets early Tuesday. (Nancy Dillon, Daily News)

Council Members See No Reason to Break Up Occupy DC Camps

Multiple D.C. Council members said Tuesday the National Park Service should continue to monitor the Occupy DC encampments in the city, but as of now they see no reason to follow other cities; lead in breaking up the camps. Since early October, Occupy DC protesters have been camping in McPherson Square while an affiliate group, Stop the Machine, have erected tents in Freedom Plaza to protest what they perceive as corporate greed. Both camps are on National Park Service property. (Tim Craig, the Washington Post)

Occupying the First Amendment

"The question of whether Occupy Wall Street has worn out its welcome with municipal leaders seems to have been answered in the affirmative tonight. Two weeks ago, Oakland police used tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades to disband the Occupy camp outside city hall, on orders from Mayor Jean Quan. Police in Atlanta; Albany, N.Y.; Cincinnati; Nashville, Tenn.; Salt Lake City, Portland, Ore. and other cities have also moved to evict Occupy demonstrators from public spaces in recent weeks." (Ray Vasvari, Slate)

London Protesters Warily Watch New York

"In the sprawling pup tents that constitute the base camp for Occupy London, anti-capitalist protesters who kept vigil through the night learned from their smartphones and laptops that the police had begun dismantling the camp in New York’s Zuccotti Park known as Occupy Wall Street. The New York camp was the template for the London protest and scores like it around the world. (John Burns, New York Times)

Key Documents

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Statement on Clearing Zuccotti Park

"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. … The First Amendment protects speech – it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space. Protestors 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. (To read the full text, go here.

The Protesters' Perspective

Throughout the day, Occupy Wall Street provided statement on the developments and a chronology of events. It begins with police bringing in bulldozers at 1:20 a.m. Tuesday. (To read the chronology and comments, go here.)

Temporary Restraining Order to Stop the Evictions

Early Tuesday morning, State Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings issued a temporary restraining order allowing the protesters back into the park until a hearing could be held later I the morning. The order had little effect since everyone already had been ousted form the park, and police continued to block anyone from re-entering the plaza until a later ruling in the city's favor. (To read the full test of the order, go here.

Court Ruling Against Occupy Wall Street

State Supreme Court Judge Michael Stallman rejected an extension or the earlier temporary restraining order that would have allowed the protesters to return – with sleeping bags – to Zuccotti Park. In his decision Stallman said the protesters "have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion of the owner’s reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely." (To read the full ruling, go here.)

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