Eviction of Occupy Wall Street From NYC Park Postponed
ABC News’ Greg Krieg reports from New York City:
City officials today postponed a cleanup of Zuccotti Park after earlier threatening to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters who have been encamped here. Jubilant protesters later poured from the park to the Wall Street area, some clashing with police. As many as 15 people were reportedly arrested for blocking access.
As the announcement was made via the “people’s mic” at 6:40 a.m., the crowd waved their brooms in triumph. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office tweeted that Brookfield Properties, owner of the park, (and not the city) decided to postpone cleaning. The city was informed “late last night.”
Occupy Wall Street had vowed yesterday to stay in the park and try to prevent the cleaning crews from entering. The crowd of at least a thousand has gathered before dawn today, girding for a struggle.
In Denver, dozens of police in riot gear pushed Wall Street protesters into retreat outside the state Capitol, and the protesters are retreating without resisting, the AP reported. Many of the protesters chanted “Peaceful!” as they backed away from their encampment early Friday.
Officers were placing plastic handcuffs on some protesters. Authorities began taking down dozens of tents at around 3:30 a.m. At about 6:30 a.m., officers in helmets and carrying batons advanced on the a line of protesters who had locked arms around the tents, including a makeshift kitchen.
Back in New York, one protester was injured by a police motorcycle. The extent of the injuries wasn’t immediately clear.
Protester Greg Disney told ABC News: ”We came here from DC on a bus at 4 am because we thought they were gonna thrown out. What happens here is the catalyst for all the actions everywhere around the country. This is a boost.”
Disney added: “I think tomorrow will say a lot. There’s a day of rage planned and I’m sure it’ll be pretty awesome.”
Ben Maer, a New York City native, said he’d been by with a friend to support the group several times. ”But we haven’t slept here or camped out. But with the eviction, we wanted get here early and support them.”
“It just shows the city doesn’t really care about ‘sanitation’ or whatever. If they wanted to help that put a few port-a-potties around.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said the protest, “created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park.” He explained that Brookfield Properties, the real estate company that owns the park, asked for police assistance to empty the park in order for it to be cleaned.
According to a notice from Brookfield Properties the cleaning was scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. on Friday.
The owners of the park have informed protesters that following the cleaning, rules against camping, the erection of tents or other structures, placing tarps or sleeping bags on the ground, lying on the ground or on benches would be enforced.
While the movement appears to be united in its desire to stay in the park, Occupy Wall Street remains leaderless without an organized message or list of demands.
On the Late Show with David Letterman, Wednesday night, former president Bill Clinton said it’s time they took a proactive position.
“I think on balance this is going to be a positive thing, but they’re going to have to transfer energies at some point to making some specific suggestions,” he said. “They need to be for something specific and not just against something because if you’re just against something, somebody else will fill the vacuum you create.”
In a blog posted on his website, Clinton’s former vice president Al Gore expressed his support.
“Count me among those supporting and cheering on the Occupy Wall Street movement,” he wrote.
Cititgroup CEO Vikram Pandit said he understands why the protesters are frustrated.
“Trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that is Wall Street’s job, to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust,” Pandit said on Wednesday according to Businessweek.
Pandit even offered to speak with the demonstrators.
“I’d talk about the fact that they should hold Citi and the financial institutions accountable for practicing responsible finance,” said Pandit. “I’d be happy to talk to them any time they want to come up.”
ABC News’ Ben Forer, Richard Esposito and The Associated Press contributed to this report.