Cleanup of Occupy Wall Street protest site is postponed
The owners of the park where anti-greed protesters have gathered for almost a month told the mayor's office they will postpone cleaning the area Friday, heading off an anticipated clash between police and hundreds who were determined to hold their ground.
By 6:30 Friday morning word had filtered through the crowd at Zuccotti Park, where protesters had gathered vowing to link arms and resist the cleaning crews.
Michael Kink of Strong Economy for All, a coalition of labor and other groups that supportsd the protest, praised the city, the park owner and the protesters for working things out and avoiding confrontation.
"Right now they're able to talk and that's what this is all about," Kink said as people flooded the sidewalks around him. "We stay!" one man yelled repeatedly in victory.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement that Brookfield Properties, the park owner, was "for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during the cleanup operation." The cleanup had been scheduled to begin at 4 a.m. PDT Friday.
"Our position has been consistent throughout: the city’s role is to protect public health and safety, to enforce the law, and guarantee the rights of all New Yorkers," Holloway said.
The owner had asked the city's help clearing protesters out of the park while it was power washed, and also had passed out leaflets announcing that new rules would be enforced making it impossible to camp. The rules would ban tents, tarps, spleeping bags on the ground, lying on benches and storage of personal property on the ground. The protesters had feared the cleaning was merely a ruse to evict them.
Brookfield's chief executive told the city that the company will defer the cleanup work for a few days to attempt to work out an agreement with protesters.
"Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown, and we will continue to monitor the situation,” Calloway's statement said.
-- Tina Susman in Zuccotti Park
Photo: An Occupy Wall Street protester sleeps inside a plastic bin in Zuccotti Park. Credit: Jessica Rinaldi, Reuters