Judge backs city’s ban on Occupy Wall Street protesters’ tents at Zuccotti
Hours after baton-wielding cops cleared Occupy Wall Street protesters and their tents from Zuccotti Park on Tuesday, a judge backed the clean sweep.
The ruling by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman says that city can stop protesters from bringing tents, tarps and other camping equipment into the park.
The decision is likely to be appealed, so it was unclear if the city would immediately reopen the park to people without tents. [LA replies: Meaning, I presume, that if there’s any possibility that tents will be allowed in the park at some point, the city will not want people coming back to the park even without tents, because those tentless people are likely to turn into tented people.]
Some Occupy Wall Street protesters had already moved to another public space, owned by Trinity Church, at Canal St. and Sixth Ave., where they used bolt cutters to open a fenced-in area.
Police swooped in and made numerous arrests. Daily News reporter Matt Lysiak was among several reporters covering the confrontation who were arrested.
Other demonstrators were massed around Zuccotti, where the overnight raid netted the arrest of 200 people, including Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.
The park was eerily clean and empty. The only people inside were employees of property owner Brookfield Properties, which asked for the city crackdown in a Monday letter to Mayor Bloomberg.
About 50 people had been allowed back in at 8:10 a.m.—before the NYPD closed the park again until the fast-developing legal issues could be sorted out.
A handful jumped the fence to get into the park around 11:30 a.m. and several were arrested.
“They are in contempt of court,” said Wes Trexler, a musician from Bushwick, Brooklyn, complaining that the city didn’t immediately comply with the temporary court order.
“Whose park? Our park!” protesters chanted. “They stole our freaking tents from the 99%!”
“That was my home,” said Shane Stoops, 23, an occupier from Seattle who said he had been at Zuccotti since the dawn of the protest Sept. 17.
“You see all those garbage trucks? That’s where I live now. They took my life … all my clothes, my four-man tent and mattress, all of my books and three years of drawings.”
Bloomberg said it was his call to move in on the protesters following reports of lawlessness and the injury of an EMS worker trying to assist a mentally ill man.
“The final decision to act was mine, and mine alone,” he said at a press conference.
“We could not wait for someone in the park to get killed or injure another person before acting.”
He said the city planned all along to let the anti-greed movement return to Zuccotti as soon as it was cleaned—without the trappings of the tent city.
But lawyers for Occupy Wall Street got Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings, a former ACLU lawyer, to sign an order at 6:30 a.m. that explicitly said they should be allowed in with “tents and other property.”
“We called her. She came and signed the papers,” said lawyer Daniel Alterman, refusing to say why they zeroed in on Billings.
“They trampled on the Constitution. They tossed it in the garbage,” he added, likening the mayor to “a small rodent.”
A hearing on the temporary order was held before Justice Michael Stallman, who was chosen at random by computer to handle the case.