NEW YORK – Police in full riot gear moved in to New York’s Zuccotti Park early Tuesday morning, evicting hundreds of protesters from the site where the Occupy call to action began two months ago before spreading globally, CNN said. Police arrested more than 100 people, according to deputy police commissioner Paul Browne. New York City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez was among those arrested, his spokesman, David Segal, told CNN.
Several hundred protesters marched from Foley Square, where they had gathered after the park was cleared, to City Hall, chanting “We are unstoppable, another world is possible” and “This is what democracy looks like.”
The operation to clear the park began around 1:45 a.m. with police handing out notices from the park’s owner, Brookfield Office Properties, that said the continued occupation posed a health and fire hazard. “You are required to immediately remove all property, including tents, sleeping bags and tarps from Zuccotti Park,” the note said. “That means you must remove the property now.”
The Occupy Wall Street website video streamed the eviction under a banner headline that read, “NYPD is raiding Liberty Square.” Liberty Square is the former name of the park.
Dozens of protesters who had camped out at the Lower Manhattan park since September 17 linked arms in defiance. Many chanted, “Whose park? Our park” and “You don’t have to do this.” While many protesters left without resisting, many others moved to the center of the park to an area known as the kitchen. There, they built barricades with tables to keep police away. The air was thick with smoke, which some protesters said was from teargas that officers lobbed.
Others said officers took thousands of books from the camp’s makeshift library and tossed them in dumpsters.
The park remained closed as of 7 a.m., with all four sides barricaded and a number of police officers on the scene. A sign posted at the park said when the park reopens, a 10 p.m. curfew would be in place, and tents and sleeping bags will be prohibited.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement that Occupy demonstrators “must follow the park rules if they wished to continue to use it to protest.” Protesters were asked to leave the park temporarily while it was being cleaned, and they were told they would be free to return afterward. “Protesters – and the general public – are welcome there to exercise their First Amendment rights, and otherwise enjoy the park, but will not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags or tarps and, going forward, must follow all park rules,” Bloomberg said.
It was the latest camp to be cleared by police in U.S. cities in recent days, according to the BBC.
Hundreds of people are reported to have moved to nearby Foley Square to continue their demonstration. A message was sent from a Twitter account, OccupyFoleySq, set up on Tuesday morning, saying: “We are here and growing.”