Please call 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675), and tell Mayor Bloomberg not to interfere with Occupy Wall Street tomorrow. Residents of NYC can call 311.
As protesters plan to resist a city-ordered cleaning of the main Occupy Wall Street encampment tomorrow, the possibility of a significant confrontation looms.
Last night, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Occupy Wall Street's headquarters in Zuccotti Park and informed the encamped protesters that they must vacate some sections of the park on Friday while its private owners, Brookfield Properities, clean it. Statement from Deputy Mayor Cas Halloway:
"Earlier this evening, Mayor Bloomberg went to Zuccotti Park to talk with the protesters himself and inform them that on Friday morning Brookfield Properties will clean the park.
"Brookfield Properties owns Zuccotti Park, and built it as an amenity for the general public. As the protest has continued, Brookfield has expressed concern about its inability to clean the park and maintain it in a condition fit for public use. Brookfield conveyed these concerns in a letter they sent to the City.
"The Mayor is a strong believer in the First Amendment and believes that the protesters have a right to continue to protest. At the same time, the last three weeks have created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park. This situation is not in the best interests of the protesters, residents or the City.
"The cleaning will be done in stages and the protesters will be able to return to the areas that have been cleaned, provided they abide by the rules that Brookfield has established for the park."
According to a notice from Brookfield Properties, the public, and thus presumably the protesters, will be allowed to continue to use the sections of the park that are not being cleaned (view the notice as a PDF):
We intend to proceed to clean the Park in sections so that one-third of the Park will be cleaned at a time while the remaining portions of the Park can continue to be used. Cleaning operations will commence on the western portion (Church Street) of the Park at 7:00 AM, and Brookfield representatives will be in the Park to delineate each of the areas being cleaned. It will be necessary for the public to leave the portion of the Park being cleaned while cleaning operations are underway, and to remove possessions from the area being cleaned. Any possessions left in an area when it is ready to be cleaned will considered to have been left there because they have been abandoned and will be disposed of accordingly.
We anticipate that it will take approximately 4 hours to clean each section of the Park. Once a section has been cleaned, it will re-open to the public for lawful use consistent with our regulations.
The regulations, which you can see in the image at the top of this post, forbid camping, the use of tents, lying on the ground or benches, and the use of sleeping bags or tarps.
Brookfield Properties also recently sent a letter to the NYPD, asking for their assistance in cleaning the park:
The letter goes on to add that any such repairs would require the park to be closed for "indeterminate periods of time." Brookfield wants the NYPD to facilitate clearing the park for cleaning, and, tellingly, to "assist Brookfield in an ongoing basis to ensure the safety of all those using and enjoying the Park." This could mean that when the demonstrators are allowed back in the park after the cleaning, the NYPD could start enforcing the park rules which Brookfield disseminated among protesters two weeks ago.
These rules explicitly prohibit tarps, sleeping bags, storage of personal property on the ground, lying down on the ground, and lying down on benches. It's conceivable that the NYPD could prohibit protesters from returning to the park with such items, which are necessary to sustain any long term encampment. It's unclear if this is the unstated intention behind this official cleaning, but naturally the protesters have little trust in the NYPD and city government, and they're bracing for a confrontation.
Occupy Wall Street is extremely suspicious of this cleaning, with many concerned that it is a pretext for shutting down the encampment permanently. In response, they have vowed to clean up the park themselves, and to resist being vacated from any section of the park through civil disobedience. Their declaration reads:
On Wednesday/Thursday, all campers/supporters should reach out to friends/family/anyone to donate or purchase brooms, mops, squeegees, dust pans, garbage bags, power washers and any other cleaning supplies to be collected at sanitation. The sanitation committee should move full-speed ahead on purchase of bins allocated by consensus at GA.
After General Assembly on Thursday, we'll have a full-camp cleanup session. Sanitation can coordinate, and anyone who is available will help with the massive community effort! Then, Friday morning, we'll awake and position ourselves with our brooms and mops in a human chain around the park, linked at the arms. If NYPD attempts to enter, we'll peacefully/non-violently stand our ground and those who are willing will get arrested.
Afterwards, we'll march with brooms and mops to Wall Street to do a massive #wallstcleanup march, where the real mess is!
Occupy Wall Street is currently holding trainings on non-violent civil disobedience to prepare.
Please call 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675), and tell Mayor Bloomberg not to interfere with Occupy Wall Street tomorrow. Residents of New York City can call 311.