Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Urban Beat: Occupy Wall Street Update & Clean Up Issues

Ironically, as I decided to post an update for you today, I noticed that exactly one-month ago today, the protestors were facing the same fate of eviction from their headquarters of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan. One month ago today, I visited the park to find that not only was it emaculately clean, the protestors themselves had taken the liberty to ensure that the park be maintained through their own physical labor. With that being said, I don't quite understand why Bloomberg and his comrades can't just leave things alone and let these protestors exercise their First Amendment rights - Freedom of Speech and to Peacefully Assemble.

Associated Press:

Police arrested 70 protesters at New York's Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, including some who chained themselves together, while clearing the park so that sanitation crews could clean it.

Concerns about health and safety issues at Occupy Wall Street camps around the country have intensified, and protesters have been ordered to take down their shelters, adhere to curfews and relocate so that parks can be cleaned.

At about 1 a.m. Tuesday, New York City police handed out notices from Brookfield Office Properties, owner of Zuccotti Park, and the city saying that the park had to be cleared because it had become unsanitary and hazardous. Protesters were told they could return in several hours, but without sleeping bags, tarps or tents.

Paul Brown, a spokesman for the New York Police Department, said the park had been cleared by 4:30 a.m. and that about 70 people who'd been inside it had been arrested, including a group who chained themselves together. One person wastaken to a local hospital for evaluation because of breathing problems.

Police in riot gear filled the streets, car lights flashing and sirens blaring. Protesters, some of whom shouted angrily at police, began marching to two locations in Lower Manhattan where they planned to hold rallies.Some protesters refused to leave the park, but many left peacefully.

However, with the help of the National Lawyer's Guild a court order was obtained on behalf of the OWS protestors, allowing them to return to the park. Mayor Bloomberg appeared in a press conference earlier this morning stating that his office was aware of the court order but would seek to legal grounds to overturn it, if essentially the protestors returning to Zuccotti Park didn't meet his specifications.

Straight out of Bloomberg's book of "let's twist the laws to suite ourselves" he is citing a law that was used to develop the park. The law states that the park is required to be open for public use and for passive recreation 24 hours a day," Bloomberg states. "Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with, as the park has been taken over by protesters, making it unavailable to anyone else." I want you all to know that I worked 2 blocks away from Zuccotti Park for years and never was this park fully occupied. People sat outside on the benches in the park on decent summer days, but certainly not in the middle on November. The park is quite noisy because of it's proximity to Ground Zero. Believe me, New Yorker's are not pressed to use this park. Try again Bloomberg!

The Mayor of New York City has submerged ready for a fight and with him he has brought his own interpretation of the law. According to Bloomberg the First Amendment doesn't allow the protestors the right to set up a tent, so if they return to the park they must come tent free. The court order issued allows the protestors to return to the park with their tents.

As far as I can tell, the protestors have not been permitted back into the park. This is a sad day for democracy. This is all very unsettling to me and quite upsetting. How can we scold other nations for restricting the free speech of their citizens, when we are doing the same? Last time I checked this was the United States of America and not Iran. The NYPD has restorted to riot gear? Are you kidding me? These are kids in a park exercising free speech. They are unarmed and not out to hurt anyone. They want to see sweeeping change in our nation and want their voices to be heard. Zuccotti Park is just that, a park, not a war zone. All these protestors want is a fare shot at the American Dream. What's so wrong with that?

Give us your thoughts.....

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