Nearly two months after the NYPD raid that ended Occupy Wall Street’s stay in Zuccotti Park, metal barricades and staff from a private security still guard the now-symbolic area. “Right now, Zuccotti Park is a public space in name only,” said NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman, whose group is appealing to the New York City Department of Buildings. “The metal barricades, security checkpoints and selectively enforced rules not only raise serious constitutional concerns, they violate city zoning laws. We expect the city to ensure that the park is managed in a manner consistent with its own laws.”
The park’s owner, Brookfield Properties, has a special zoning permit granted in 1968, the NYCLU argues, that requires a “permanently open park” for “the public benefit.” But the current rules, they say, are “arbitrary and inconsistently applied,” and therefore violate the space’s foundational laws.
Since the overnight raid of Zuccotti Park in November, public entry to the space is granted via two openings in the metal barriers, but sometimes the rules are stricter than others. (On New Year’s Eve, dozens of protesters were arrested for trying to tear down the barricades.) “Security personnel have prohibited individuals from bringing an ever-changing list of items into the park, including food, cardboard signs, musical instruments and yoga mats even though the park’s written rules do not prohibit any particular items from entering the park,” the NYCLU says.
But in a statement to DNA Info, a Department of Buildings spokesperson said, “Our inspectors determined that no violation is warranted due to adequate public access to the park.”