The scheduled cleanup of the park where hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters have camped for four weeks has been postponed, Mayor Michael Blooomberg’s office announced early Friday morning.
“Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park – Brookfield Properties – that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation,” Deputy New York City Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement issued at 6:30 am, a half hour before the cleanup was to get underway.
“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. 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,” he added.
Occupy Wall Street protesters had gathered to clean the park on Friday morning and vowed to resist the scheduled cleaning operation they said was just a ploy to evict them, according to reports.
After hearing that the cleanup had been postponed, supporters broke out in cheers, chanting “The people united will never be defeated.”
And on the @OccupyWallSt Twitter, supporters celebrated the postponement, deeming it a victory and writing, “People power triumphs! Brookfield declares indefinitely postponed cleaning!” and “Let this be known as the miracle of October 14th.” The Twitter account also suggested “Idea: Clean and help out other public areas in NYC for good PR.”
About 600 to 700 demonstrators began cleaning the site early Friday morning in advance of the previously scheduled 7 a.m. power-washing of Zuccotti Park, the movement’s unofficial headquarters, the Associated Press reported. Many protesters said the plan to clear out the park for a cleanup had just been a cover to force them out of the site — and some had pledged to resist any attempts by police and workers to come into the park.
“There is a strong commitment to nonviolence, but I know people are going to vigorously resist eviction,” Occupy Wall Street spokesperson Han Shan told the AP. “I think we’re going to see a huge number of supporters throughout New York and the surrounding area defend this thing … I’m hoping that cooler heads will prevail, but I’m not holding my breath.”
And CBSNewYork reported Occupy Wall Street had asked supporters to come to the park Friday morning to “defend the occupation from eviction.”
Some protesters, such as business magnate and co-founder of Def Jam Russell Simmons, took to Twitter to say they would resist the cleanup effort. Simmons tweeted, “Dear mike [Bloomberg] I have long supported u and u have been good mayor, don’t take me to jail tomorrow I’m not 22 I don’t wanna go :-) but I will.”
Bloomberg said this week the demonstrators could return once the park was cleaned, as long as they abide by basic park rules, such as the ban on tents and sleeping bags and lying down on the ground or on benches, sitting areas or walkways.
Meanwhile, there were reports the movement would move its unofficial headquarters to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village in response to the cleanup, CBSNewYork had reported.
The cleanup had been set to last 12 hours and move through the park section by section.
In Denver on Friday morning, police in riot gear moved into a park where Occupy Denver demonstrators had set up, the AP reported. Lincoln Park had been declared closed indefinitely, the AP wrote, but protesters refused to leave. There have been no arrests.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, Occupy Wall Street has planned what it calls a worldwide “Day of Actions.” Oct. 15 will be the movement’s “biggest day,” the movement’s Facebook event page says.
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