Zuccotti Park Cleared, Protesters Head to Court

Dan Evon

When the NYPD cleared Zuccotti Park last night, did they infringe on Occupy Wall Street protesters right to assemble? Less than 12 hours after police cleared the park, arresting more than 200 people, the Occupy protesters are heading to court to challenge Mayor Bloomberg's decision.

Attorney's supporting the Occupy Movement filed a restraining order this morning which bars the enforcement of a park ban on the use of tents and sleeping bags. According to Newsday, the restraining order bars the city from "enforcing the 'rules' published after the occupation began or otherwise preventing protesters from re-entering the park with tents and other property previously utilized."

In a press conference today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that he had "every intention" of letting the protesters back into Zuccotti Park once the restraining order issue was clarified.

Cas Holloway, an attorney who works as the city's deputy mayor for operations, filed an opposing restraining order, stating:

If the temporary restraining order "is extended and conditions in the park are allowed to be restored to that which existed immediately prior to this morning's enforcement action, the unsafe and unsanitary conditions and the substantial threat to public safety as determined by the Police and Fire Departments... will once again be created."

Police in riot gear cleared Zuccotti Park early this morning. Mayor Bloomberg said that action was taken because he was concerned about the "health and safety of the public."

Bloomberg said:

"The safety and health conditions became intolerable." Action was taken to clear Zuccotti Park "to reduce the risk of confrontation and minimize destruction to the surrounding neighborhood... New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself... What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that."
"Last night, billionaire Michael Bloomberg sent a massive police force to evict members of the public from Liberty Square-home of Occupy Wall Street for the past two months. People who were part of a dynamic civic process were beaten and pepper-sprayed, their personal property destroyed.... We are appalled, but not deterred. Liberty Square was dispersed, but its spirit not defeated. Today we are stronger than we were yesterday. Tomorrow we will be stronger still. We are breaking free of the fear that constricts and confines us. We occupy to liberate."