The city must take the initiative in cleaning out the park
Last Thursday night, as reported in the New York Times,
city and state lawmakers waged an aggressive campaign to persuade both the mayor’s office and the company that owns the park to back down, seeking to defend the protesters’ rights and defuse mounting tensions over the encampment.Of course, by “disaster,” what Williams meant was that the protesters would resist the police’ lawful efforts to clean out the park, resulting in the use of force against the protesters, which, this being the left-wing city it is, would be blamed on the police and the government and Brookfield Properties, not the protesters.
As a result of these pressures and fears, Brookfield Properties last week withdrew its request that the NYPD help remove the protesters from the Park. Brookfield understandably did not want the onus of having triggered a confrontation between police and protesters.
The problem is that it’s not reasonable to expect a private company to shoulder such a moral and political burden. The city itself must take responsibility for doing this. There must be some legal way that the city can take the following position: “Though Ziccotti Park is private property, it is for public use, maintained under an agreement with the city. The park was intended as a park for the ordinary enjoyment of the public, not as a permanent encampment for hundreds of people, and filled with their furniture, mattresses, and cooking gear. Therefore the city is going to remove all the camping paraphernalia from the park and return it to its proper and ordinary use. After the park is cleaned up, the protesters may return and continue gathering there, but they may not use it as an encampment.”
On that basis the protesters should be given notice that they have to remove their gear, and if they don’t, the police will remove it. And if the protesters then resist the police, the blame will lie on the protesters.
That’s the way things would be done, in a non-leftist city. Perhaps it ultimately will be done, but only after the situation becomes unbearable and only after the Occupy Wall Street protest has sparked illegal protests and violent riots all over Europe, as happened in Rome over the weekend.