Zuccotti Park has been forcibly cleared of its protesters by police in order to "clear and restore" the birthplace of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement that "health and safety conditions became intolerable" in the park, and that the protesters rendered it "unavailable to anyone else."
About seventy protesters were arrested for refusing to leave the park last night, amid chants of "Whose park? Our park!" A temporary restraining order has been issued against the city on behalf of the protesters, and the park was briefly re-opened this morning, then closed again while the city processes the restraining order.
In between assurances that they could return to the park, Bloomberg had harsh words for the protesters, saying:
"I have become increasingly concerned —as had the park's owner, Brookfield Properties — that the occupation was coming to pose a health and fire safety hazard to the protestors and to the surrounding community. We have been in constant contact with Brookfield and yesterday they requested that the City assist it in enforcing the no sleeping and camping rules in the park. But make no mistake — the final decision to act was mine."
While the legal details get sorted out, protesters are re-grouping to decide on their next moves. If anything, we have a feeling Thursday's planned "shut down Wall Street" demonstration is about to get a lot more serious.