Around 1 am Monday morning protesters at Zuccotti park were confronted with hundreds of police in riot gear ready to evict them from the park. Police passed around flyers explaining what they were about to do. An hour after the flyers were passed around police started to move in and raise the encampment. Tearing out all the tents, the people’s library, med tent, communication center and had everything taken to the dump. This was in opposition to one of the statements in the flyer which stated:
“If you fail to immediately remove your property, we will do so and transport it to the Department of Sanitation parking garage at 650 West 57th Street, where you’ll be able to recover it as of noon today with proper identification.”
Ydanis Rodriguez, a New York city council member was among the roughly 70 protesters arrested. Mr. Rodriguez was at the park representing his constituents. Around 200-300 protesters remained in the park after the initial police warnings and gathered together, interlocking arms in an act of peaceful civil disobedience. The protesters who remained were pepper sprayed and beaten with batons by police.
Mayor Bloomberg, a billionaire and part of the 1%, ordered the raid in the middle of the night under the pretext of health and safety issues, did so without informing the protesters of the issues. Vocal protesters argued that the reasons were unfounded citing that the camp has its own fire squad with fire extinguishers in almost every tent, its own set of certified and registered EMT, nurses and doctors.
The legal team at Zuccotti park worked endlessly as soon as information was heard about the incoming raid. The legal team drafted papers and after contacting Judge Lucy Billings of the New York State Supreme Court for a restraining order against the NYPD. Daniel Alterman, a civil rights attorney who helped with the injunction, speaking on Democracy Now! stated that Judge Billings
“...who agreed to meet us between 5:00 at 6:00 a.m. to review our request for a temporary restraining order, restraining the police from evicting the protesters at Liberty Park, exclusive of lawful arrests for criminal offenses, and, most importantly, enforcing the rules published after the occupation began almost two months ago—or otherwise preventing protesters from re-entering Liberty Park with tents and other property utilized therein.“
The temporary restraining order against the NYPD was signed at 6:30 am with a hearing scheduled for later that day.
Jumaane Williams, another New York City Council member tweeted on November 14th:
“I can report that
@ydanis, a #NYC Council Member, has been #arrested at #OccupyWallStreet & is bleeding from the head thanks to the #NYPD.”
After roughly 200 protesters were arrested, and the hearing later in the day which granted the protesters the right to return to the park but without tents, sleeping bags or allowing protesters to lay down. Mayor Bloomberg spoke at a news conference. He said:
“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 the right 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 or sleeping bags to take over a public space.”
The city has stated they have a couple hundred of the books from the library but are currently debating whether to return the books.