Occupy Wall Street, the encampment in New York City’s Zuccotti Park that sparked a nationwide movement against income inequality and government policies designed to benefit wealthy corporations, was finally cleared by the New York Police Department around 3 a.m. on Monday morning.
Reporters on the scene say the the police beat and used pepper spray on peaceful protesters who did not resist arrest. After the last demonstrators were arrested and removed the park, sanitation workers entered and disposed of their possessions, including food, medical supplies, and the 5,000 books in Occupy Wall Street’s free library.
The unexpected raid was accompanied by an attempted media blackout, as the police prohibited reporters (including those with press passes) from going to the park, closed the subways leading to downtown Manhattan, and even prevented news helicopters from flying in the airspace over the park.
Neither were politicians spared. Ydanis Rodriguez, a city council member representing New York City’s 10th district visiting the park, was reportedly injured and arrested by the police.
Occupy Wall Street began on September 27th, when a small group of protesters arrived in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, a few blocks away from Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, and refused to leave. It is modeled on the successful protest earlier this year in Egypt, where demonstrators refused to leave Tahrir Square until Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. It has inspired other Occupy protests in cities throughout the United States.
This was the first time Occupy Wall Street was raided, though Occupy protests in many other cities have already been violently cleared by the police. Last month, an Iraqi war veteran was critically injured during a raid on Occupy Oakland in Oakland, California. Occupy Oakland was forcibly cleared again on Monday morning, less than a day before the Occupy Wall Street raid.
Although Occupy Wall Street started as a apolitical and grassroots phenomenon, it has been supported by many powerful Democratic politicians and unions. Even President Obama has indicated his support, leading