Occupy Wall Street protesters streamed back into Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park this evening, but without the camping gear. It’s been a wild 24-hours for demonstrators, starting with a surprise police raid and ending with a court that prohibits them from living in the park.
Earlier today, a New York judge ruled against Occupy Wall Street protesters — siding with the city’s move to dismantle the encampment by getting rid of sleeping bags and tents.
Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman upheld the city’s mass eviction after an emergency appeal by the National Lawyers Guild. Demonstrators asked to be allowed back into the park with their all their gear. The judge said the protesters’ first amendment rights still don’t entitle them to take over the privately-owned park, their makeshift home since mid-September.
Armed with plastic shields and batons, hundreds of police kicked out all the protesters in the middle of the night. It got ugly at times, with reports of cops clashing with demonstrators and journalists. The city told protesters they could come back after a thorough cleanup — just not with their stuff.
Approximately 200 people were arrested, including a New York City councilman on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended timing of the sweep, saying he ordered it “to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood.” He said he it became a necessity because of “intolerable” health and safety conditions.