Saying Zuccotti Park had become a health and safety hazard, a large contingent of police officers in riot gear ordered the Occupy Wall Street protestors to clear the area early Tuesday morning.
The cops said protestors, who have been living in tents in the privately owned park across from Ground Zero for almost two months, would be allowed to return once the area was cleared and the park's sanitary conditions could be assessed, Newsday reported.
While some complied with the police order, others vowed to resist, chanting "Whose park? Our park." A live stream of the events early Tuesday showed protestors chanting "You don't have to do this" as officers in light blue community affairs jackets moved into the crowd. According to a Tweet resent by Mayor Bloomberg's press secretary, Stu Loeser, some protestors are chanting "police have shown no violence. Show them the same."
The protestors, with no specific unified agenda, are trying to call attention to economic inequality in the country and the role of Wall Street in shifting wealth to one percent of the country. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who became a billionaire selling Wall Street financial data, has been unsympathetic to the protests, saying at a recent forum that while the protests feel "cathartic [Congress] were the ones who pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will. They were the ones that pushed the banks to loan to everybody."
On Tuesday the New York Times reported that about 200 people had been arrested as cops cleared the park for disorderly conduct or resisting arrest.
“The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day,” Bloom said in a statement as reported by the Times. “Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with … making it unavailable to anyone else.”
“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 protesters and to the surrounding community,”
On Tuesday afternoon a judge ruled that the protestors could use the park but could not sleep there.