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Monday, October 24, 2016

The Occupy Wall Street protests based in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan successfully repelled a Friday morning attempt by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to dissolve the crowd — which has been camped out there since September 17 — under the guise of cleaning the park after Brookfield Properties, the private corporation that owns the space, perhaps intimidated by the potential for a massive backlash, decided to postpone their work.

Thousands of people from across the country swarmed the area in the early dawn hours, preparing to stand together in solidarity. At 4 a.m., two hours before it was announced the City would not be seizing control of the park, the mood was one of anxiety and even fear. The Occupiers were, broadly speaking, split into two camps: One favored an accommodating approach that assumed the City and Brookfield would act in good faith and progressively clean one third of the space at a time, subsequently allowing the occupiers to return, as they promised. The other insisted on blocking the police from seizing any territory in Zuccotti, arguing that it was under the same auspices — “clean up” — that the “Bloombergville” protests against the Mayor’s education budget cuts were shut down earlier this year.

“I think there will be pain,” said Hamilton Pratt, an activist from New York. “People are not communicating with each other as a [unified] group. [Factions] give police the opportunity to hone in one or the other. And when that happens, I hate to say it, but there will be blood.”

But though many activists were bracing for arrests — or worse — the ability of the protesters to bring out hundreds of reinforcements, many fresh recruits desperately hoping to protect a cause they were still learning about, made the powers that be think twice.

“I think the masses of people forced the City to pull back,” Michael Ratner, president of the Center For Constitutional Rights, told The National Memo. “The city decided there was going to be too much national coverage of blood flowing. The health excuse was such a pretext. These people are cleaning all the time. They needed an excuse to get into the park without a court order. ”

Though the smell of the place was often less than pleasant, it was in fact rather clean by the time 6 a.m. rolled around Friday morning.

“We’re the sanitation crew, and today was a victory,” said Brian James, an artist from Massachusetts, gesturing at two friends. “We spent all day the past two days, all night tonight, scrubbing everything. The numbers [of those attending] had something to do with it. But we got this place spotless. I think the City realized that if they came in under the pretense of cleaning to kick us out, and they place already looked great, everyone would realize it was bullsh*t.”

Once it became clear the protesters would not be forcibly removed, activists started to talk about how helpful the scare had been in galvanizing new backers.

“Every time we have an event like this, it simply ratchets up support and press outreach,” said Ted Schulman, a seasoned activist who lives near the park.

“I came here because I heard there was a chance they might lose this, and so I came up from D.C.,” said Greg Disney, a student from Baltimore. Others interviewed came from Providence, R.I., and elsewhere across the region. Many had never visited the protest before, but they suspected this morning would be pivotal — and wanted to lend a hand.

“Whenever there’s a showdown, it helps,” said an activist called “Goldie” from Manhattan. “It brings all this press down here, and more people hear about us.”

That’s not to say there wasn’t a palpable sense of dread in the park late Thursday night.

“Yeah, we were worried. It was tense,” said Colette Mcintyre, a student at Barnard College. “There was a lot of intimidation and trepidation. We knew what time [they were coming]. It was a countdown. But despite all that, the fact is that we were still here. People care about this. It doesn’t matter that we’re wet and tired. This is representative of the fact that we’re not alone and there is a 99 percent.”

At 6:15 a.m., the City made clear it would not force its way into the park and risk chaos and bloodshed.

“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 Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement released to the press. “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.”

The State Senator whose district includes the park, Democrat Daniel L. Squadron, took a prominent role in helping temporarily avoid a clash by holding several late night phone calls on Thursday with Richard Clark, director and CEO of Brookfield. The firm emailed the city its decision to postpone the clean up around midnight Friday.

“Brookfield Properties made the right decision in postponing its scheduled clean-up of Zuccotti Park,” Squadron said Friday. “Now, the dialogue must continue. The stakeholders must come together to find a solution that respects the protesters’ fundamental rights, while addressing the legitimate quality of life concerns in this growing residential neighborhood.”

And Mayor Bloomberg, by developing and then backing away from a plan to break up the protests, is weakened; he has unintentionally lent the movement fresh support and gravitas at a critical period in its development.

Follow National Correspondent Matt Taylor on Twitter @matthewt_ny

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Copyright 2011 The National Memo
  • EdwinDominguez

    We have criticized anti-protesters oversea but we cannot practice what we preach. This is the beginning of the end of Capitalism. Capitalism has used the name of Jesus Christ, to associate itself with christianity, that also is a hypocrisy, Jesus did not believe in classes, in fact, he told the apostles, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24.
    The Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Martin Luther King just to name a few, had the same thing in common, they were all poor but great compassion.
    So if you support the exploitation of the poor by the rich, is your choice but don’t call yourself a Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or Muslim.

  • peteserb

    The writer says the occupants lock arms in solidarity. They haven’t a clue why they are there, let alone in solidarity. Take the union thugs away and they’ll all go back to mommy and daddy.

  • 1olderbutwiser1

    Let’s give a loud hoot and holler for the protesters. They are saving energy for our polluted planet by having their nintendo games (or updated a/v equivalents)turned off for awhile. To distract them for any purported purpose, put in some larger stadium-size tv screens, and give them remote controls to fight imaginary wars with aliens.
    The reality is that every american wants to work a 35 or 40 hour week, and be paid enough to keep theirself, their spouse, however many siblings they may have or adopt, (even if a foreign child), all their new upscale cars, their mini-mansions, and all their health care costs for the whole family, and the whole education cost for the whole family, as well as a retirement account to enable them to live for 20 or 30 years after just spending 20 or 30 years doing something that is not tooo terribly taxing to them (so there is plenty of energy left after a day’s “work” so they can do a 5k run and partake of the sauna and hottub),,,,…all this for working 35 or 40 hours a week and having no money on the line to make sure the company, this greedy bastardly corporation. ever makes a profit to stay in business…….the average american worker is living in lalaland, and these protesters are claiming these incredible lifestyles americans mostly lead are a lifestyle of the oppressed?
    If our country is ever going to compete with the rest of the world, we must have a balanced budget, end of food stamps, an end of lawyer-induced libilities with tort reform up and down the whole spectrum, and sensible currency exchange rates worldwide…..the chinese are starting to wise up to our plan of having them work for almost nothing while we buy their goods for peanuts and then borrow back their profits to sustain our do-nothing lifestyles, and everyone seeing we are going to pay them back with worthless currency.

  • armour1955

    The protesters do know why they are there…they are broke, indebt and fed up with the bankers and politicians who go to washington regular joes and come out millioinaires.

  • Joe Kelsall

    I am amazed at the low calibre of politician that New York attracts. Bloomberg should be out on the streets with the people who elected him! This abdication of empathy with the public filters down to every uniformed thug working for the US local or national government. Unfortunately, the American attitude to free speech has begun to permeate even the UK ‘Homeland Security’ goons.
    The American workers have been sold down the rivers by the supporters of capitalism whose fortunes have been amassed buying and selling products from the Far East. The US government has laid a smokescreen of phoney wars and paranoia to confuse the less educated ie Fox Newswatchers!
    I thought Obama was going to be a breath of fresh to US foreign affairs. Unfortunately he has become bogged down with AIPAC and its Zionists in the US State Department. Clear them out ! America’s support for Israel should not be at the cost of the American workers. Israel is a wealthy country with no need for handouts from a nation sliding into liquidation. Carpe Diem USA!

  • D Lauer

    The codes that New York wanted to enforce were aimed at the homeless. As far as thugs I believe they are the ones that are purchasing our government. The Democrats are owned by Wall Street and the Repubs are owned big Big Oil and Coal!

  • Vince von Lamburg

    Mayor Bloomberg is an enemy pretending friendship with New Yorkers !!!!!!! He hasn’t the courage to march with the people, only in parades to show his false face to gain support for votes and to be praised for the crap he gives people. He declares this city to be “HIS”, he says he is “99% PERFECT” yet ranks out the Russians calling them stupid people and the Irish drunks, that is not a mayor for the people but a two face back stabber. He pretends to side with the gays, the protestors, the blacks, etc. just for and only for votes and to be glorified. Where is he now for “HIS” people, is he thinking how many and who to layoff again to save “HIS” city. The Police, The Fire Department, the teachers all voted for him for increased in their pay and bonuses, they got how much ??? He sucked them for their votes now its layoff time right, of course, this is part of his way to save “HIS” city. Oh but wait, taxes to go up and up, and what does he care, a rich stab in the back never worries. Bloomberg doesn’t give a care for the protestors he is being nice to gain their support as a great mayor of all time, good the protestors should physically throw him out of office !!! A scum who race baited the Jews to vote for him with former mayor Giuliani, they did and they as promised by Bloomberg got all their financial worries paid for behind closed doors !!! Believe me he tried to trick the protestors out of the park not to clean it but to conquer the territory with the police, Bloomberg thinks New Yorkers are stupid as well, its just that they take a lot up their butts. The protestors should retrace their steps and stop at Bloomberg’s home and lay their fury on him. The city is over taxed, over axed and its all Bloomberg’s fault as anything wrong with “HIS” city, “HIS” city but your struggle today, tomorrow, always !!! The politicians, all of them, they only know their people at election time, the easy public is swindled left and right and it is they, “the public” that is turned away from and forced to pay up for everything after the election is over, not only by taxes and layoffs but by Bloomberg retarded fines to save HIS city !!! AWAKE, if blood needs be spilled, then it was forced to come to it for NOTHING is settled by the spoken words up to a point, beyond that is FORCED !!! The protestors need a leader to speak, represent them, they need to be organized and armed to fight when the need arises for protection of themselves and to back up the words of the leader. When the people finally have ONLY the clothes on themselves to lose, surly they will fight and victory will be theirs as there is no other national strength greater then the mass of the people in unity for a cause !!! NEW YORK AWAKE !!!

  • mll

    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

    God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty…. And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. THOMAS JEFFERSON!

  • sharonupnorth

    It does my heart good to see people finally standing up and in for what they beilieve. As a child of the 60’s I am a firm believer in making enough noise for the government to hear. Yes we need a balanced budget, No, we are not going to achieve that on the backs of the poor and working middle class. Obama needs to remember who elected him and why. Stand up to the elitists and do what is right. Raise the taxes on the Rich that George Bush said would only be for a ‘term’ and start using a little common sense.

  • carolyn foreman

    bloomberg, in no way, deminishes his strength as mayor of new york by allowing the protesters to continue .. quite the contrary, he exemplifies his strength, by not being a slave to wall street, and supporting the values instilled in us by the great supporters of freedom whose voices have been heard throughout american history .. read your history books is my advice to those of you who try to degrade mayor bloomberg !!!

  • Vince von Lamburg

    Bloomberg did nothing to stop the protestors out of fear and only fear of having anyone go against him especially the physically present angry occupiers. He falls back on the “amendment and protesting legally” thing to save his face, not caring about the cries of business owners, etc. in the area, Bloomberg never hears anyone. All Bloomberg cares for is to be glorified, praised, loved and VOTED for and to be labeled the greatest mayor of all time. The more he doesn’t go against the occupiers the more he thinks they support him, he is wrong. Bloomberg is a coward and a run-out, lost when facing the truth about himself and of course has a cover STORY for his MISUNDERSTANDINGS, after all he himself said he is 99% perfect. We are Bloomberg’s slaves, rather the people, HIS people of HIS city, today, tomorrow, always. The people suffer under his taxes, fines, layoffs and pure stupidity, people and businesses leaving New York and HIS restrictions on our liberties. Where is he great, he stepped on our term limits for a mayor, race baited, bribed and swindled, switched from one party to another to, as always falsely gain friends and support. After winning third term he of coursed back tracked and “AGAIN” supported term limits for a mayor, then went behind closed doors to pay off all the people who he bought to vote for him. Bloomberg will smile to anyone for a vote, march in any parade falsely pretending friendship just for a vote, then forget about you, oh not of course if your rich. Bloomberg is as false, back stabbing, empty as can be, a racist with a smile and a “third hand” (invisible out stretched helping hand)just for a vote.
    You talk about leadership, you know nothing about it, you and your PIG Bloomberg. He will never be president of America, he is hated in many states with a high probability of being shot, only New York kisses his butt, both sides!!! Talk about leadership, post your insight of it here for me to read, defend yourself, and I’ll post mind.