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Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s statement on the eviction

Just after 1 a.m., on a mild night in New York, police began to evict the protesters from Zuccotti Park, their home since September 18. Around 70 protesters were arrested, the makeshift kitchen and library were pulled down and the park was fully emptied by early morning. However, a judge issued a temporary restraining order allowing the protesters to return to the park, pending an 11:30 a.m. trial. Follow along with updates here throughout the day.

4:49 p.m. Occupy Wall Street loses in court

Nick Pinto, the Village Voice journalist tracking the hearing, just tweeted: “Occupy Wall Street loses in court. Petition to extend restraining order DENIED.” The New York Court posted the ruling, which said the owners of the park had the right to maintain “its space in a hygenic, safe, and lawful condition, and to prevent it from being liable by the City or others for violations of the law.”

The judge determined that the protesters did not demonstrate a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park.

3:38 p.m. Occupy Wall Street books safe, city officials say

The New York City Mayor’s Office just tweeted that all Zuccotti Park property has been stored at the 57th St. Sanit Garage and that people can pick up the property on Wednesday. The group tweeted an image of the books from the library. Many protesters sharply criticized the destruction of the library at Zuccotti Park, and writers planned to regroup at 6:00 p.m. to donate more books to the library.

2:27 p.m. The judge will make a ruling by 3 p.m.

The lawyers finished their arguments and the judge said he would have a decision by 3 p.m.

1:21 p.m. Brookfield Properties: not restricting free speech; just restricting tents

Nick Pinto, a reporter for the Village Voice, is inside the courtroom where a judge is hearing arguments about the decision to evict protesters from Zuccotti Park. He writes on Twitter, “Brookfield lawyer to court: We’re not limiting free speech, just tents.” A few minutes later, “This is private property. Judge asks Brookfield lawyer: is it your position that tents have no 1st amendment function here? A: Yes”

The attorney for Occupy Wall Street argues that the tents and other temporary structures are protected speech, as the symbolism is in the “24-hour occupation.”

12:58 a.m. Large rally planned for Thursday

Before the eviction, Occupy Wall Street planned a march on Thursday in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Now, protesters are calling for the march to be even larger than planned. Senior writer and editor at AlterNet Joshua Holland writes on Twitter that the police actions “hugely increased turnout for Thursday’s actions.”

12:21 a.m. Owners of Zuccotti Park release statement: park to remain closed

The owners of Zuccotti Park released a statement that said the park would remain closed until there was a resolution in court on the use of the park.

Brookfield Properities thanked the mayor for his leadership and said it had hoped to reopen the park after it was cleaned. However it said, “The City and Brookfield, however, were notified of a court-ordered injunction regarding the use of the Park. As a matter of public safety, the Park will remain closed pending the resolution of this matter.”

See the full statement here.

11:41 a.m. Occupy Wall Street in court

The hearing for Occupy Wall Street’s evicition moved locations and was slated to start at 11:30 a.m. The hearing is meant to review whether or not Bloomberg had the right to evict protesters early Monday morning. Bloomberg said he made the decision to clear out the park, as the health and safety conditions became intolerable.

A judge issued a court order granting a temporary restraining order on Bloomberg early this morning saying the eviction was not valid until it was heard in court. Despite the court order, protesters were not allowed back in the park.

11:18 a.m. Coordinated country-wide crackdown?

The Zuccotti Park closure is only the latest in a series of crackdowns around the country of Occupy encampments. Occupy Chapel Hill, Occupy Burlington, Occupy Denver, Occupy Oakland and Occupy Berekly have all struggled

On the BBC’s Take Away show, Mayor Jean Quan says she was on a conference call shortly before the actions began with “18 cities across the country who had the same situation.”

It’s not surprising that city officials would reach out to one another to brainstorm on ideas about city management, but it’s interesting to think just how that 18-city call went.

10:36 a.m. Standoff at Zuccotti Park

Around 300 people have marched from Canal Street to Zuccotti Park, according to reporters on Twitter. The park is barricaded and filled with security officers. It has been mostly empty since early this morning.

Members of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) close Zuccotti Park for the second time in 24 hours. (Peter Foley/Bloomberg)

9:38 a.m. Twitter list on Occupy Wall Street

For those following along on Twitter, my colleagues behind the @Washington Post account created a Twitter list of reporters, protesters and other people on the site. Follow it on the blog below, or on Twitter here.

9:38 a.m. Time to declare a victory and move out?

As my colleague Ezra Klein wrote earlier today, Bloomberg may have given the protesters an easy out from the onslaught of winter. It looks as if the founders of the protest movement might agree with Klein. The Canadian magazine AdBusters, which first put out the call to Occupy Wall Street, released a tactical briefing on its site Monday night.

It says: “As winter approaches an ominous mood could set in ... hope thwarted is in danger of turning sour, patience exhausted becoming anger, militant nonviolence losing its allure. It isn’t just the mainstream media that says things could get ugly.”

It then offers two suggestions: 1) grin and bear it, and when the cops come throw “our bodies on the line,” or 2) throw a giant “jubilee” in victory and use the winter to “brainstorm, network, build momentum so that we may emerge rejuvenated with fresh tactics, philosophies, and a myriad projects ready to rumble next Spring.”

9:13 a.m. Protesters petition for new site at Canal Street

Despite a judge’s ruling that protesters should be allowed to return to the park, police still ringed Zuccotti Park. Some protesters were allowed in the now clean park. Others were escorted out. The New York Times reported that officers asked people to keep moving away from teh park, and that a “maintenance issue,” kept the park from being reopened. On Democracy Now, the livestream reporter said that lawyers were at the park to negotiate the park to be reopened. “There is a legal world versus the real world,” the crowd chanted.

However, Cara Buckley, at the New York Times, reported only a few protesters remained at Zuccotti Park, but dozens of riot police remained with helmets and face shields. Most protesters, meanwhile, were amassing by Canal Street and 6th Avenue. On the livestream, protesters were petitioning the Trinity Chuch, the owner’s of the area, to allow the protesters to stay there indefinitely.

9:04 a.m. Did Bloomberg do Occupy Wall Street a favor?

The Post’s Ezra Klein thinks so. He writes:

Zucotti Park wasn’t cleared by weather, or the insufficient commitment of protesters. It was cleared by pepper spray and tear gas. It was cleared by police and authority. It was cleared by a mayor who comes from Wall Street and a request made by one of America’s largest commercial real estate developers. It was cleared, in other words, in a way that will temporarily reinvigorate the protesters and give Occupy Wall Street the best possible chance to become whatever it will become next.

Read all of his thoughts here.

8:38 a.m. Lost property

While a temporary restraining order will allow protesters to return to the park, sanitary workers quickly cleared out the area. In Bloomberg’s press conference, the mayor said the property had been hauled uptown and could be reclaimed by protesters if they went to retrieve it. Some reported that the 5,000 books in the camps library had been trashed.

Apparently the NYPD have destroyed the donated library at #ows - I don’t think you need a metaphor, but crushing 5000 books might be one.Tue Nov 15 08:27:53 via webSimon HB

To get an idea of what was removed from the park, here’s an image tweeted of the destroyed encampment:


8:38 a.m. Michael Bloomberg’s press conference

Bloomberg repeats much of what was in his earlier statement, saying the press was kept from Zuccotti to protect them and prevent the situation from becoming worse. He says the park will remain closed until he sees the judge’s ruling.

8:13 a.m. Judge allows temporary restraining order to let police back in Zuccotti Park

Justice Lucy Billings ruled that the owners of Zuccotti Park could not bar protesters from the site until the matter was heard at a trial. The protesters began to march back to Zuccotti Park.

The ruling stated that police and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were “prohibited from enforcing ‘rules’ published after the occuptation began or otherwise preventing protesters from re-entering the park with tents and other property previously utilized.”

The trial will be held at 11:30 a.m.

8:11 a.m. Protester claims police destroyed Torah in raid

Occupy Wall Street marcher Michael Glazer calls New York Police to report that his Torah was destroyed when protesters were ordered to temporarily leave Zuccotti Park.

8:02 a.m. New York councilman arrested

Ydanis Rodriguez, a New York City council member for Washington Heights, was arrested at Zuccotti Park. On his Twitter feed, a staff member wrote:

Council Member Rodriguez is currently in central booking, arrested while showing support for #ows #occupywallstreetTue Nov 15 10:38:47 via Twitter for BlackBerry®Ydanis Rodriguez

Another council member, Jumaane D. Williams reported that Ydanis was bleeding from the head after his arrest:

I can confirm that @ydanis, my colleague on the @NYCCouncil who was hit & arrested at #OccupyWallStreet by the #NYPD, is in Central Booking.Tue Nov 15 10:04:20 via webJumaane D. Williams

7:47 a.m. A 9 a.m. meeting called for the protesters

Protesters have been told once the park is fully clean, they are welcome to return — just without tents or tarps or sleeping bags (See Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s full statement on the eviction here).

After the long night, protesters gathered for a sleepy meeting in the nearby Foley Square, but broke up shortly afterward. A 9 a.m. meeting was called for Canal Street.

7:36 a.m. Tear gas or pepper spray or fire extinguisher?

The police clashed with protesters in the early morning and Protesters said the police used tear gas to clear the park. A video shows the kitchen area of the park flooded with white smoke, but Josh Harkinson, a reporter for Mother Jones, said on Twitter that it was actually pepper spray, not tear gas. Quinn Norton, another journalists near the scene, said the smoke came from a fire extinguisher.

Prior to the early morning raid, police cordoned off the area around Zuccotti Park, blocking access and keeping many of the journalists away from the action.

Zuccotti Park, November 14, 2011. (Brendan McDermid /Reuters)

To this:

New York City sanitation crews clean Zuccotti Park after city officials evicted the 'Occupy Wall Street' protest. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Here’s another shot of the cleared park:


Here’s a livestream from New York:

The video is a stream from the Global Revolution livestream channel. It is filmed by protesters on the site:

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

Live tweets from Occupy Wall Street:

Here’s Michael Bloomberg’s full statement:

“At one o’clock this morning, the New York City Police Department and the owners of Zuccotti Park notified protestors in the park that they had to immediately remove tents, sleeping bags and other belongings, and must follow the park rules if they wished to continue to use it to protest. Many protestors peacefully complied and left. At Brookfield’s request, members of the NYPD and Sanitation Department assisted in removing any remaining tents and sleeping bags. This action was taken at this time of day to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood.

“Protestors were asked to temporarily leave the park while this occurred, and have been told that they will be free to return to the park once Brookfield finishes cleaning it later morning. Protestors – and the general public – are welcome there to exercise their First Amendment rights, and otherwise enjoy the park, but will not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags, or tarps and, going forward, must follow all park rules.

“The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day. Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with, as the park has been taken over by protestors, making it unavailable to anyone else.

“From the beginning, I have said that the City had two principal goals: guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protestors’ First Amendment rights.

“But when those two goals clash, the health and safety of the public and our first responders must be the priority.

“That is why, several weeks ago the City acted to remove generators and fuel that posed a fire hazard from the park.

“I have become increasingly concerned – as had the park’s owner, Brookfield Properties – that the occupation was coming to pose a health and fire safety hazard to the protestors and to the surrounding community. We have been in constant contact with Brookfield and yesterday they requested that the City assist it in enforcing the no sleeping and camping rules in the park. But make no mistake – the final decision to act was mine.

“The park had become covered in tents and tarps, making it next to impossible to safely navigate for the public, and for first responders who are responsible for guaranteeing public safety. The dangers posed were evident last week when an EMT was injured as protestors attempted to prevent him and several police officers from helping a mentally ill man who was menacing others. As an increasing number of large tents and other structures have been erected, these dangers have increased. It has become increasingly difficult even to monitor activity in the park to protect the protestors and the public, and the proliferation of tents and other obstructions has created an increasing fire hazard that had to be addressed.

“Some have argued to allow the protestors to stay in the park indefinitely – others have suggested we just wait for winter and hope the cold weather drove the protestors away – but inaction was not an option. I could not wait for someone in the park to get killed or to injure another first responder before acting. Others have cautioned against action because enforcing our laws might be used by some protestors as a pretext for violence – but we must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws.

“Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest, but rather to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others. There have been reports of businesses being threatened and complaints about noise and unsanitary conditions that have seriously impacted the quality of life for residents and businesses in this now-thriving neighborhood. The majority of protestors have been peaceful and responsible. But an unfortunate minority have not been – and as the number of protestors has grown, this has created an intolerable situation.

“No right is absolute and with every right comes responsibilities. The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out – but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others – nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law. There is no ambiguity in the law here – the First Amendment protects speech – it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.

“Protestors have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags. Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments.

“Let me conclude by thanking the NYPD, FDNY, and the Department of Sanitation for their professionalism earlier this morning. Thank you.”

Here’s Brookfield’s full statement:

Brookfield appreciates the peaceful and professional response of the NYPD, the FDNY, and the Department of Sanitation, and thanks Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership. As had been widely reported, conditions in Zuccotti Park had become dangerous, unhealthy and unsafe. In our view, these risks were unacceptable and it would have been irresponsible to not request that the City take action. Further, we have a legal obligation to the City and to this neighborhood to keep the Park accessible to all who wish to enjoy it, which had become impossible.

As previously stated, Brookfield supports all citizens’ rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech.

Brookfield had hoped to reopen the Park this morning after it had been cleaned. The City and Brookfield, however, were notified of a court-ordered injunction regarding the use of the Park. As a matter of public safety, the Park will remain closed pending the resolution of this matter.

Our hope is to reopen the Park as soon as possible for the enjoyment of all members of the community in accord with the rules of the Park.