Of all people, ?uestlove broke the news.
Soon after a Twitter alert from The Roots’ drummer that police in riot gear were on their way to the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, police swept in and cleared out what Mayor Mike Bloomberg deemed an “intolerable situation,” arresting dozens of protesters (to the point of removing trees to which Occupiers chained themselves) (and even whatever journalists were allowed to cover the story). They also collected the tents and other belongings that were left behind, and simply trashed others – Including the OWS library, from which police reportedly trashed books. (One of the librarians writes here about the experience.)
This comes one day after Oakland police did the same thing to Occupiers there, also in the wee hours of the morning. Prior to seeing this happen to arguably the second-most visible protest of the Occupy movement, Bay Area civil attorney Dan Siegel quit his volunteer legal adviser position, one in which he’d been counseling the much-criticized Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. He was our guest for the Interview last night, and talked about why he resigned in an expression of support for Occupy Oakland. (Full interview after the jump.)
Siegel spoke to Rachel about how how city officials are mischaracterizing the movement:
[Mayor Quan and other city officials] just don’t see, in my opinion, the scope of this movement…I think it really has the potential to really remake American society, and if that’s true, people who run cities – in particular, cities like Oakland, where the 99% live and face all the problems I mentioned – should be supportive of those movements and should not think that they can control them.
He then added something I found particularly resonant in light of this morning’s Occupy eviction here in New York:
You know, the other piece, Rachel, is beyond just the politics of “whose side are you on?” To me, it seems like just a totally useless and futile activity to spend millions of dollars to take people out of tents, to create situations where there was bloodshed in our streets and lots of chaos for days, because they’re going to come back. This is a movement that can’t be stopped.
The point keeps being made: police action, especially the violence that was exhibited most notably in Oakland on October 25, only stokes the flame. Greg Sargent argues that Occupy Wall Street accomplished something important today, despite the eviction. Ezra Klein asks whether or not Mayor Bloomberg, Brookfield and the NYPD have actually done the movement a favor. And my friends Allison Kilkenny and Amanda Marcotte both criticize the justification used not only for the city to clear the park, but to infringe upon First Amendment Rights.
The city’s actions in that regard are particularly ironic considering that a judge issued a restraining order this morning preventing the city from “evicting protesters” and “preventing protesters from re-entering with tents & other property.” As such, Glenn Greenwald argues that the only laws being broken are by Mayor Bloomberg. You can find even more on Mother Jones and Boing Boing.
This morning, protesters headed back to Zuccotti and Justin Elliott reports on his Twitter feed that they’re being stopped by police, despite the court order. As for Oakland, about 1,000 Occupiers have returned to the Oscar Grant Plaza protest site from which they were evicted and re-established the protest, if not the tented encampment, there. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
UPDATE: The library books (at least those in this twitpic from the New York City Mayor’s office) are safe. More when we know it.)
UPDATE: The New York Times and other sources report that the ruling on the restraining order has come back, and it is not good news for Occupy Wall Street. Per the New York Times and other sources, the judge, Michael D. Stallman, ruled that the order will not be extended – thus denying the protesters’ bid to reestablish their previous encampment.
The PDF of the ruling is here, and the relevant section of the ruling is below:
To the extent that City law prohibits the erection of structures, the use of gas or other combustible materials, and the accumulation of garbage and human waste in public places, enforcement of the law and the owner’s rules appears reasonable to permit the owner to maintain its space in a hygienic, safe, and lawful condition, and to prevent it from being liable by the city or others for violations of law, or in tort. It also permits public access by those who live and work in the area who are the intended beneficiaries of this zoning bonus.
The movants have not demonstrated that they have a first amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion of the owner’s reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely. Neither have the applicants shown a right to a temporary restraining order that would restrict the City’s enforcement of law so as to promote public health and safety.
Therefore, petitioner’s application for a temporary restraining order is denied.