Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters moved to Foley Square in downtown Manhattan this morning after helmeted, baton-wielding police evicted them from Zuccotti Park overnight.
Our Daily News team reports:
During a three-hour General Assembly meeting, the demonstrators plotted their possible next moves — including marches on Canal St. or on Wall St.
They also discussed marching to NYPD headquarters or occupying Manhattan Criminal Court in solidarity with the 70 to 100 protesters who were arrested during the raid.
Cleaning crews descended on Zuccotti Park and scrubbed every flat surface while scores of cops kept everyone out with metal barricades.
As of 7 a.m., there were no protesters in the park — just employees of Brookfield Properties, which owns the property and asked for the cleanout.
“That was my home,” said Shane Stoops, 23, a protester from Seattle who said he had been at Zuccotti since the dawn of the protest Sept. 17.
“You see all those garbage trucks? That’s where I live now. They took my life...all my clothes, my four-man tent and mattress, all of my books and three years of drawings.”
Mayor Bloomberg said that once the cleaning is finished, the anti-greed movement can return to Zuccotti, but protesters will not be allowed to rebuild their tent city.
“Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest, but rather to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others,” the mayor said in a statement about five hours after the raid.
“Protesters have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags. Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments.”
The eviction began around 1 a.m. when a horde of cops surrounded the park and used a bullhorn to notify protesters that sanitation trucks would be clearing out the site.
“If you fail to immediately leave the park, you will be subject to arrest," they said.
The protesters were defiant at first, chanting: "Whose park? Our park! No retreat. No surrender!"
"When the cops closed in, people tried to hold on to one another. Cops pulled people out, but we went back in," said Jose Mediaville, 29, a former Marine from Brooklyn. "A white shirt got frustrated. He yelled, 'Come on, let's do this.'
"I tried to avoid them, but they got me. They smashed people in the hands and broke the human chain. They lifted me up and threw me out like a rag doll," he said.
"If they think this is the end of it, they're crazy," Steve Iskovitz, 51, a mental health counselor from Pittsburgh, said. "People will strike back."
Police began tearing up the tents wholesale by about 1:45 a.m. after throwing reporters out of the park and corralling the protesters in the center.
"The police have us surrounded," Tyrone Greenfield, 23, of Brooklyn, said as sanitation workers tossed tents into dumpsters.
One young man wearing a gas mask tore up the notice after a cop handed it to him.
"Everybody stay calm, the police want you to become violent," protesters shouted. "Do not become violent. Pass the message."
One protester, 32, who gave his name as Daryl W, called his mother. "We're about to be raided I just thought I'd let you know I love you bye," he said.
"They don't even obey their own rules," Frank Olivo, Bronx, 21, said. "What they're doing is against the law."
Some protesters sang the Beatles song "Revolution." Helicopters flew noisily overhead.
"I have not broken the law tonight," yelled protester Eamon O'Rourke as cops stuffed him into a squad car.
Occupy Wall Street sent out a message on Twitter that said cops were using pepper spray.
City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez was arrested, and a tweet alleged he was beaten and bleeding.
"They took oaths to protect and serve," Jason Lee, 36 of Brooklyn, said. "They broke that oath tonight. They destroyed what we built. That's tyranny by any definition."
Paul Kostora, head of the medical tent, said he was working with a patient when police pulled him away.
"They pulled me out stethoscope, white coat and all as I was telling them I have a patient in there," he said. "One girl has a heart condition and wasn't feeling well. They manhandled her and threw her on the ground."
By 3:30 a.m., cops had cleared the kitchen area of the park, where protesters had formed a human chain, cuffed those arrested with plastic ties and loaded them in vans.
The showdown came after protesters had vowed to "shut down Wall St." on Thursday to mark two months of occupation. "It's still on. It'll be bigger than ever. People are mobilizing now. They're wounded now and preparing for comeback," said Matt Baldwin.