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zuccotti park
Lucas Jackson / Reuters
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the coward's way out:
In a surprise early-morning action, hundreds of New York City police cleared Occupy Wall Street out of Zuccotti Park on Tuesday, arresting dozens, throwing protestors’ tents into garbage trucks, and touching off a chaotic scene in lower Manhattan.

The only thing missing from this report is the dateline Cairo:

More than 1,000 cops surrounded the encampment ...

... "Police are bring in bulldozers," the blog noted at 1:20 a.m. Within the next hour, there were "unconfirmed reports of snipers on rooftops," as well as "helicopters overheard" and "pepper spray deployed," with reports of at least one reporter being sprayed.

Around 2 a.m., the Occupiers said the New York police destroyed the “OWS library,” throwing 5,000 donated books in the dumpster. At 2:55 a.m., New York City councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez was “arrested and bleeding from head,” the OWS website said. A little after 3:30 a.m., the park’s "kitchen tent” was reportedly teargased, and police moved into the camp with “zip cuffs."

"Folks in #thepeopleskitchen are gassed, tackled, dragged by arms and legs, and all others are being barricaded out so they can’t watch #ows," the protesters wrote on Twitter at around 4 a.m.

All of this was done, of course, out of concern for "public health and safety," although obviously not the health and safety of the protesters.

Mayor Bloomberg (grudgingly) acknowledged that the First Amendment gave people the right to speak, but said that tents and sleeping bags will not be allowed back into Zuccotti Park. According to Bloomberg the protesters now must:

"... occupy the space with the power of their arguments."

Apparently that right doesn't include being able to protect oneself from the elements while speaking.  

For more discussion see this post by Horace Boothroyd III.

5:35 AM PT: Time to take back the park?

A New York judge on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order allowing protesters to return to Zuccotti Park only hours after police forcibly removed them, arresting dozens.

The order by Justice Lucy Billings set a hearing date for Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. and said that until the matter was considered at that hearing, the city and Brookfield Properties, the owners of Zuccotti Park, would be prohibited from evicting protesters or "enforcing 'rules' published after the occupation began or otherwise preventing protesters from re-entering the park with tents and other property previously utilized."

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