City council members will urge Bloomberg to let Occupy Wall Street protesters stay in Zuccotti Park
City Council members Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Steve Levin and Jumaane Williams are circulating a letter among their Council colleagues urging Mayor Michael Bloomberg to allow demonstrators to remain at Zuccotti Park past a deadline the mayor set for tomorrow. The letter is being circulated in advance of a 6 p.m. press conference Council members have called for the site of the protest.
A copy of the letter was forwarded to me by a Council source.
Bloomberg told the protesters they need to leave the park by tomorrow so that it can be cleaned. The company that owns the park, Brookfield Office Properties, said that conditions at the park have gotten unsanitary and unsafe and that the space should henceforth be used for "passive recreation." The rules, as outlined by the company, would not only end the protesters' 27-day stay in Zuccotti Park but would prevent any similar activity there in the future.
Earlier this afternoon, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio visited the protesters and issued a statement saying he did not support their "unilateral" removal.
UPDATE: The mayor's office issued a statement emphasizing that the protesters are welcome to remain in the park after the cleaning, but that Brookfield's rules prohibiting sleeping bags, laying down, placement of personal property on the ground and blocking walkways will be enforced. Which will, presumably, make remaining in the park for an extended period of time considerably more difficult.
From City Hall spokesman Marc La Vorgna:
“The protestors will be able to continue to exercise their First Amendment rights in Zuccotti Park, or anywhere else in New York City. Brookfield requested the City’s assistance so they can meet their obligation to maintain this public park for all New Yorkers. Protesters can remain in the park during Brookfield’s section-by-section clean-up and they will be able to return to the cleaned sections once work is completed tomorrow and can stay in the park 24/7 so long as they follow park rules. We will continue to defend and guarantee their free speech rights, but those rights do not include the ability to infringe on the rights of others, which is why the rules governing the park will be enforced.”