Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Court Order Allows Occupy Wall Street Protesters Back

Occupy Wall Street protesters regroup in Foley Square after New York City police in riot gear removed them from Zuccotti Park early in the morning on November 15, 2011. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Occupy Wall Street protesters regroup in Foley Square after New York City police in riot gear removed them from Zuccotti Park early in the morning on November 15, 2011. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By Colleen Long, Verena Dobnik, Associated Press

15 November 11

A New York judge issued a temporary restraining order allowing protesters to return to Zuccotti Park only hours after police forcibly removed them.To read the document click here. -- CW/RSN

undreds of police officers in riot gear raided Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, evicting dozens of Occupy Wall Street protesters from what has become the epicenter of the worldwide movement protesting corporate greed and economic inequality.

Hours later, the National Lawyers Guild obtained a court order allowing Occupy Wall Street protesters to return with tents to the park. The guild said the injunction prevents the city from enforcing park rules on Occupy Wall Street protesters.

At a morning news conference at City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city knew about the court order but had not seen it and would go to court to fight it. He said the city wants to protect people's rights, but if a choice must be made, it will protect public safety.

About 70 people were arrested overnight, including some who chained themselves together, while officers cleared the park so that sanitation crews could clean it.

By 9 a.m., the park was power-washed clean. Police in riot gear still ringed the public space, waiting for orders to reopen it.

The city told protesters at the two-month-old encampment they could come back after the cleaning, but under new tougher rules, including no tents, sleeping bags or tarps, which would effectively put an end to the encampment if enforced.

Bloomberg said the evacuation was conducted in the middle of the night "to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood."

"The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day," Bloomberg said. "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."

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.

Hundreds of former Zuccotti Park residents and their supporters marched along Lower Manhattan before dawn Tuesday.

Some paused and locked arms outside the City Hall gates but left peacefully when police in riot gear appeared on the scene. About 300 to 400 kept moving along the sidewalks, taking care not to block them.

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