Dozens of firefighters and cops descended upon Zuccotti Park early this morning on a mission to seize anything that could be considered a fire hazard, like generators and cans of gasoline. On his weekly radio show, Mayor Bloomberg was pleased with the results: Not only had authorities confiscated six generators and thirteen cans of gasoline, but there was no resistance from protesters — in fact, they were cooperative. As the Times reports:
The mayor said that 30 or 40 firefighters went through the park and that there was a substantial police presence on hand as well. But the mayor, who said he had not been there but had spoken with both the fire and police commissioners, praised the protesters for being calm and cooperative.
“You can’t complain when, notified about the safety hazard, the protesters voluntarily took their generators and cans and turned them in,” he said on his program on WOR-AM (710).
The Daily News, however, tells a different version of how things went down.
“They made an announcement on a bullhorn saying: ‘We are here to take the generators, could you please bring them up to us on the corner of Broadway and Liberty Street’,” said James Bennett, a member of the information working group.
However it happened, the safety sweep was a success for the city in more ways than one.
Preventing fires is a reasonable concern when you’re dealing with a densely packed tent city, but the raid also, conveniently enough, makes it much harder for the protesters to stay warm as the temperatures drop into the low thirties, which will happen as soon as Saturday night. In that sense, seizing generators and gasoline was as much of an offensive maneuver as firing tear gas and flash grenades — and without the PR mess.