A judge in New York has decided to uphold the city’s decision to dismantle the Occupy Wall Street camp in Zuccotti Park. Protesters have camped out in the privately owned park since mid-September. The judge ruled that the protesters’ right to free speech did not entitle them to occupy the plaza indefinitely.
Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman Tuesday denied a motion by the OWS protesters to allow them to set up camp once again in the park. The emergency appeal was filed on their behalf by the National Lawyers Guild.
The judge’s ruling stated that the protesters “have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators and other installations, to the exclusion of the owner’s reasonable rights.”
Raided in the middle of the night
Hundreds of New York City police officers in riot gear descended on the camp in darkness at about 1 a.m. Tuesday. Hundreds of protesters were sent packing, and their tent city was dismantled.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters that about 200 protesters had been arrested. One of them, Ydanis Rodriguez, was a member of the City Council.
Camp disappears in a few hours
By 4:30 a.m., it was as if the camp had never existed. Tents and sleeping bags left behind had been taken away to the dump and the pavement had been swept clean with power washers.
The camp was where the OWS movement began. Protestors were there to stand up against what they believe is the unequal treatment of the wealthy and the the rest of the population in the U.S.
Raid ordered by mayor
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the camp dismantled for what he deemed intolerable health and safety conditions.
The mayor defended his decision:
“From the beginning, I have said that the city has two principal goals — guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protesters’ First Amendment rights. … But when those two goals clash, the health and safety of the public and our first responders must be the priority.”
The eviction followed similar sweeps in Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore.
Hundreds of the evicted protesters searched for a new place to camp Tuesday. A minimum of 22 people were arrested after trying to set up a new encampment in a lot belonging to the Trinity Church. The church has been sympathetic to the OWS movement.
At least six journalists were also arrested for trespassing after following the protestors.
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/zuccotti-park-eviction-ru_n_1095843.html
The Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/status-of-occupy-wall-street-park-uncertain-after-protesters-evicted/article2236466/
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