Wall Street protesters declare ‘victory,’ vow to continue
Now it’s war!
Newly emboldened Occupy Wall Street activists yesterday declared victory over the city—and vowed even bigger protests today—as a red-faced Mayor Bloomberg was forced to cave on plans to roust them from a lower-Manhattan park to clean it after the site’s owner got cold feet.
“They’re going to need an army to stop us now!” gloated Allison Schwartz, 22, a Brooklyn waitress who was among those occupying Zuccotti Park after the abrupt about-face on the cleanup and an ensuing skirmish between cops and protesters.
At least 15 people were arrested in the clash, which began after hundreds of jubilant activists began marching into the streets and hopping barriers.
“I can’t believe it. I thought it was all over. [The city’s retreat] changes everything. I’ve never been more confident that we are all going to make a difference,” Schwartz said.
Another Occupy Wall Street member, unemployed Brooklyn resident Joseph Vitulli, crowed, “The city tried to intimidate us. They threatened us and tried to put us in our place.
“But we showed them what we are all made of,” said Vitulli, 32, who has been sleeping in Zuccotti Park for the past week along with hundreds of others protesting the federal bailout of Wall Street and its executives’ excessive salaries.
“We’re on a roll. Nothing can stop us now.”
PHOTOS: WALL STREET PROTESTS
MIKE: POLS LOWERED THE BROOM
LOCAL SHOPS CLEAN UP, TOO
EDITORIAL: SHOWDOWN POSTPONED
The protesters vowed to continue their movement today with a mass march on a Chase bank branch—where they plan to close their accounts—followed by a rally at the military recruitment center in Times Square.
The group’s glee was in stark contrast to their anger only a day earlier, when the Bloomberg administration announced plans to have people leave the park for a “section-by-section cleanup” yesterday morning. Organizers said the move was a pretext to boot them permanently.
At the time, Brookfield Properties, which owns the park, had requested police enforcement of its planned cleanup.
Occupy Wall Street responded by giving the city petitions signed by 300,000 people objecting to the protesters’ removal. And several thousand people turned out at the park in anticipation of the ejection early yesterday morning.
At 6:20 a.m., 40 minutes before the deadline for occupiers to vacate, Bloomberg’s deputy mayor, Cas Holloway, said Brookfield officials had informed the city that they were “postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park.”
MARCH ON WALL STREET TURNS VIOLENT
POLICE SCOOTER RUNS OVER PROTESTER
PROTESTERS AND NYPD CLASH
PARK CLEANUP POSTPONED
Bloomberg blasted Brookfield for bowing to political pressure.
Brookfield said, “At the request of a number of local political leaders, Brookfield Properties has deferred the cleaning of Zuccotti Park for a short period of time while an attempt is made to reach a resolution.”
In an incident partially caught on video, an observer for the National Lawyers Guild was apparently pinned by a police scooter that had allegedly knocked him down and trapped his leg. Police suggested he had intentionally put his leg under the scooter.
In another videotaped incident, a police supervisor punched a protester in the face from behind.
That protester, who identified himself to the Web site Gothamist as Felix Rivera-Pitre, said he had earlier “shot the cop a look.”
“I remember seeing my earring on the ground next to me, and it was full of blood,” he told Gothamist. “I was completely dumbstruck. I’m HIV positive, and that cop should get tested.”
Those arrested were expected to face charges including assault, disorderly conduct, interfering with governmental administration and resisting arrest.
“You had a large number of individuals breaking the law by remaining on the street, disrupting traffic, and some of those individuals [were] resisting officers and fighting with them when they were being arrested,” said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
He said the NYPD was reviewing video of the scooter run-in.