[UPDATE: Well, how about that. Brookfield Properties, owner of Zuccotti Park, has postponed plans to clear the area. However, Mayor Bloomberg has already stated to one radio show that the clear-up would still go ahead, only in a few days.]
[ORIGINAL ARTICLE STARTS HERE] Zuccotti Park, site of the Occupy Wall Street protest camp, is to be cleared out Friday, with police preparing to remove protestors who have turned the park into a stronghold of tents, sleeping bags, and camping stoves.
Just days after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg assured protestors they could stay at the park “as long as they obey the law,” the owners of the park, Brookfield Properties, have ordered a cleanup fom 7am Friday.
The move has been met with outrage from protestors, with Occupy Wall Street saying the eviction of protestors amounts to “an attempt to shut down #OWS for good.”
Brookfield representatives distributed leaflets around the park on Thursday, saying that once the park has been cleared, sleeping bags, tents, and other camping gear will be forbidden in Zuccotti. Lying on benches or the ground is also to be banned, effectively shutting down the camp.
The protestors have started cleaning the park voluntarily, but have said they’ll defend it. OWS spokesman Tyler Combelic told ThinkProgress, “We have decided that at 7 o’clock tomorrow, we will not leave the park. We are not opposed to cleaning it ourselves.”
Occupy Wall Street has called on protestors to gather in the park from 6am Friday in a bid to stay on the site.
A confrontation looks on the cards then – especially as police say they will enforce the requests of the park’s owners. Zuccotti is a private space, but an agreement with city authorities allows it to be open to the public.
The NYPD told the Guardian that it planned to clean the park in thirds on Friday, and expected the operation to last 12 hours. Anyone else feel that’s a tad optimistic?