There’s a face-off brewing between the city and the Occupy Wall Street protest, and it’s less than 24 hours from boiling over. Last night Mayor Bloomberg made his first appearance at the demonstrations, alerting the occupants that they would be forced to temporarily vacate their home of nearly a month at the behest of Zuccotti Park owners Brookfield Properties. The group responded immediately, insisting that they would do the cleaning themselves beginning Friday morning: “If NYPD attempts to enter, we’ll peacefully/non-violently stand our ground and those who are willing will get arrested.” But the city’s orders became even stricter today when NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly explained that, after the park is cleared and cleaned, protesters “won’t be able to bring back the gear, the sleeping bags, that sort of thing will not be able to be brought back into the park.” That sure sounds like he’s all set to end the occupation.
On their official website, the protest movement admits that “cleaning” has been used “to shut down peaceful occupations elsewhere,” and acknowledges “that this is their attempt to shut down #OWS for good.” In response, they’ve asked supporters to call Bloomberg to voice their support for a right to assembly, but they’ve also issued an emergency call to action, summoning sympathizers “to defend the occupation from eviction” beginning at 6 a.m. tomorrow.
In conclusion, they declare: “This is an occupation, not a permitted picnic.”