The NYPD, at the behest of Mayor Bloomberg, raided and cleared Liberty Square (Zuccotti Park) last night. As far as we know right now, the raid began a little after 1 am, and was prefaced by a tweet from Mayor Bloomberg saying, “Occupants of Zuccotti should temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps. Protestors can return after the Park is cleared.” An eviction notice was flyered around the camp as well.
The most detailed news stream on the events of last night seems to be, interestingly enough, coming from the UK based news site The Guardian. They are currently reporting that the NLG stepped in early this morning and obtained aallowing the OWS protesters access to the park. Hundreds are currently being prevented from reentering the park, despite waving copies of the order.
This morning Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference to address the eviction. When asked about the “numerous reports today that accredited journalists were prevented from witnessing the eviction of Zuccotti Park,” Bloomberg says that action was taken to “protect the members of the press. We have to provide protection and we have done exactly that.”
The Guardian has an excellent summary:
9.07am: Going back over the Bloomberg statement, much of which he repeated at his press conference, perhaps the most striking line was his cold assertion that when First Amendment rights and and safety priorities clash, health and safety that trumps the US constitution. Here’s the quote in full again:
From the beginning, I have said that the City had two principal goals: guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protesters’ First Amendment rights. But when those two goals clash, the health and safety of the public and our first responders must be the priority.
8.46am: Bloomberg ends with a peroration to New York City as city that prides itself defending the right to freedom of expression. Provided the court order “if it exists” (it does) is rescinded, that right will be restored in Zuccotti Park, he says. And with that, the press conference is over.
8.40am: Bloomberg says that property seized from the park will be available to be collected from the sanitation department in Manhattan later.
The #OWSLibrary was an impressive gathering and sharing of information, and had many beloved caretakers. Stephen B., a ‘librarian’ of the People’s Library wrote an emotional recap of the events that took place last night.
This seems to be only an escalation of the recent activities the 1% has engaged in lately. Many people are asserting that it was a response to the OWS announcement of planned activities for a major action on November 17th. With reports streaming in that the owners of the actual park were given less than an hour notice of the eviction, the fact that the police are preventing protesters from reentering the park by openly defying a court order, and recent word that the Judge who signed the court order has been removed from the case, things do look pretty sketch-tastic.
The question becomes this: where do we go from here?
Well, Adbusters has put out a new “tactical briefing” discussing what options are in front of us. Some may not be suprised to see that Occupying a physical space may not be the idea they are endorsing. True, with winter ahead, a physical occupation may be difficult to maintain, but the vital sense of community created shouldn’t be undervalued. It’s time to develop some strategic action plans.
Now, more than ever, we need to unite to keep this movement growing.
For more news and info on the eviction, here are some good sources: