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NYPD Occupies Zuccotti Park; OWS Evicted in Night Raid

see livestreaming via GlobalRevolution [1] ]         photographs © Levees Not War 2011

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What are their [NYPD’s] demands?” asked social historian Patrick Bruner. “They have not articulated any platform. How do they expect to be taken seriously?” 

“I suppose they have a right to express themselves,” said local resident Han Shan. “But I’d prefer it if instead they occupied the space with the power of their arguments.”          —“NYPD Occupying Liberty Square; Demands Unclear [2]

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This Will Only Strengthen the Movement

After midnight Monday/Tuesday Nov. 15–16 the New York Police Department on orders from Mayor Mike Bloomberg, citing public health and safety concerns, roughly and abruptly cleared Zuccotti Park [3] in Lower Manhattan, where Occupy Wall Street protesters have been encamped since September 17. Starting about midnight hundreds of police surrounded the park, set up bright lights, and, using bullhorns, ordered everyone to take down their tents and evacuate or face arrest. About 100 protesters refused to evacuate, and locked arms around the kitchen area (see map [4]), chanting “We are unstoppable / Another world is possible.” By 1:00 a.m. police and NYC sanitation workers began clearing, uprooting the settlement, arresting holdouts (see map [5] and timeline [6]). About 200 were arrested in the night raid (video [7] of 3:30 a.m. arrests). When the sun rose, Zuccotti Park was occupied only by police.

We went to Zuccotti Park this morning, or as close as we could get: on the other side of steel police barricades where hundreds of NYPD officers formed a “thin blue line” inside a cage of their own. We talked to Robert and Steve, residents of New York City who have been among the Occupiers since the beginning. They have jobs, one of them is married, and apparently they do not sleep overnight in Zuccotti Park all the time, but Steve had his possessions, including a bedroll, wrapped up in several tote bags.

We talked with Robert (right) and Steve for a half hour or so, leaning against a building along Cedar Street on the south side of the park (see map [4]). Robert, a former Wall Streeter (though not a money man), said he wore a suit [8] for the first two weeks of the occupation.

As we talked, helicopters were hovering in locked positions a thousand or so feet overhead. They said that during the raid, the news media’s helicopters were blocked by police from the air space over Lower Manhattan so they could not film the raid. (“Media blackout [9],” reporters say on Twitter.) The subway system was also shut down (or the entrances to the stations in the area were blocked) and the Brooklyn Bridge was closed to keep people from coming to the occupiers’ defense.

Like the other reporters who’d swarmed to Lower Manhattan to cover the eviction, I’d quickly discovered that the media was not allowed here. The police had created a one-block buffer zone around the park—in some areas two or three blocks—and were refusing to admit even the most credentialed members of the press. A New York Times reporter had already been arrested, a member of the National Lawyers Guild told me. —Josh Harkinson, “Inside Police Lines at the Occupy Wall Street Eviction [10]” (Mother Jones)

We asked if there had been any warning that the eviction was coming. None, though one of the occupiers yesterday noticed the police vans or buses driving by on Trinity or Broadway and sensed that something was up. “I used to be a police officer,” she told her fellow campers. “Something’s coming.” Something indeed. Now the NYPD occupies Zuccotti Park.

Meanwhile, attorneys representing Occupy Wall Street had won a judge’s approval of a restraining order [11] on the city’s eviction, but still the police were there, inside the barricades, and we, representatives of the 99 Percent, were not. Word had gone out that around 8:30 a.m. people would be allowed back in the park, a 24-hour public park that is owned by Brookfield Properties, located across Liberty Street, adjacent to the park. On Tuesday afternoon, New York State Supreme Court Judge Michael D. Stallman ruled [12] in favor of the city’s eviction. (Click here [13] for a PDF of the ruling.)

[14]Steve said that the three main issues that have brought most of the protesters to Occupy Wall Street are (1) that the elected officials in Washington are useless, sold-out properties of the corporations and the super-wealthy and are utterly unresponsive to the public interest; (2) a demand that the investment banksters who wrecked the economy [15] be made to pay for their destructive ways just as the middle class and poor have been made to suffer for their recklessness, and . . . but before we could get to issue #3—

At about 10:45 we heard a sound coming from the west. “That’s the group that’s been at a park over near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, coming back to re-take the park.” We joined in with the big group carrying signs, blowing horns, chanting “Whose park? Our park!” and walking in a large loop around the police- barricaded park. One of the signs said “Obama, Say Something.” Another: “Pres. Obama: If You See Something, Say Something.”

It was a mild, overcast autumn morning with bright yellow leaves on the trees in the park and a dampness in the air. The people, mostly young, but of all ages, really, walked in a steady stream around the park. Steve from time to time said in a loud voice, “Keep moving, please, no civil liberties to be seen here. Move it, people—no freedom here.” Seriously, Steve advised in a lower voice, you’re less likely to draw unwanted attention from the cops if you keep moving.

Around 11:30 there was a sudden rush of camera crews to the south side of the park, on Cedar Street, when one of the protesters planted an American flag in the park soil, on the police side of the barricade. There was a struggle over the barricade as the police tried up uproot the flag, and a group of protesters loudly fought to keep it planted. The police pulled the flag out of the ground and took it over to lean against a tree in the middle of the park. We heard protesters yelling at the police, who stood stone-faced and unresponsive all around the perimeter, clearly instructed not to engage with the civilians, but no further rowdiness ensued. Later, the New York Times City Room blog reported [16], a protester jumped the railing and ran to grab the flag. He was grabbed and escorted to the exit. The new occupation was reinforced by the judge’s ruling [12] later in the afternoon.

Stay tuned for more dispatches from Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland, and other occupations to come . . . (Read our account [17] of the big Oct. 5 march, “Occupying Wall Street with Nurses, Teachers, Transit Workers, and the Rest of America’s Middle Class”).

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Thurs., Nov. 17, has been declared a National Day of Action [18]

MoveOn.org | AFL–CIO | SEIU | Rebuild the Dream, etc. 

NYC : Gather at Foley Square 5:00 p.m. 

Find an event near you [19]. Nearly 200 events planned nationwide.

Shut Down Wall Street | “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come”

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Exclusive video (below): “Inside Police Lines at the Occupy Wall Street Eviction.” Mother Jones’s Josh Harkinson was one of the only reporters bearing witness—till the cops said he had to go.

 

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Read All About It

OccupyWallStreet.org [14]

Matt Taibbi @ Rolling Stone: “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests [20]

City Room (NYT) : Updates on the Clearing of Zuccotti Park [16]

Media Decoder (NYT) : “Reporters Say Police Denied Access to Protest Site [21]

Inside Police Lines at the Occupy Wall Street Eviction [10]” (Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones)

Gothamist.com: “The NYPD Didn’t Want You to See Occupy Wall Street Get Evicted [22]

Restraining Order Allowing Protesters Back into Zuccotti Park [11]

Liveblogging @ Brooklyn Ink [23]

Truthdig: “New York Police Trash Occupy Wall Street [24]

Chris Hedges: “This Is What Revolution Looks Like [25]

John Nichols @ The Nation: “Occupy the Home Front: Why Veterans Are Deploying With the 99 Percent [26]

The Nation: “Veterans Occupy Wall Street [27]

The Great American Bubble Machine [15],” Matt Taibbi’s classic 2010 Rolling Stone profile of Goldman Sachs in which he describes the investment bank as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”:

What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain—an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.” —Matt Taibbi, “The Great American Bubble Machine [28]

Isaiah J. Poole: The Evictions Won’t Stand: Make Nov. 17 A Day of National Occupation [29]

 

 

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