Lawmakers urge Bloomberg to let protesters stay, with their sleeping gear

Jerrold Nadler. (From Jerry Nadler's Flickr stream.)
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Hours before the NYPD starts enforcing new rules in Zuccotti Park that will make it harder for protesters to remain there overnight, a number of lawmakers are stepping forward urging Mayor Michael Bloomberg to intervene.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, whose congressional district includes the park and Wall Street said he's "very concerned by Mayor Bloomberg's plan to remove Occupy Wall Street protesters" from the park tomorrow. "There should be no need for police to execute mass evictions" he said.

Nadler wants protesters to continue to be able to use sleeping bags and said he's concerned the police ban on that kind of gear will also be extended to items not currently prohibited in the park, like laptop computers.

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A letter from several City Council members said the order to clean the park and remove "gear" is a de facto "eviction notice."

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and members of Community Board 1 met with Occupy Wall Street protesters got them to agree to a code of conduct: zero tolerance for drug use or criminal activity; limited hours for drumming; formalizing communication lines with non-protester neighbors to resolve any disputes.

Stringer, in a public statement today, repeatedly referred to the situation as a First Amendment issue, and said, "There is no need to rush into hasty, precipitous action when it comes to the peace and safety of our community."

The labor-backed Working Families Party sent out an email to supporters warning them about the new rules that will be enforced starting tomorrow: "It seems clear to us these rules are designed to end any ongoing occupation of the park."

The Bloomberg administration says protesters are welcome to stay in the park after the park is cleared out section-by-section and cleaned tomorrow morning, as long as they obey the park owner's new rules, which will make it harder, in practice, for them to stay in the park.