7:47 am Oct. 14, 2011
At 6:30 this morning, as police and protesters braced for conflict over a scheduled clean-up of Zuccotti Park by the park's owners that would at least temporarily have displaced the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office sent out the following statement, from Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway:
“Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park – Brookfield Properties – that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation. Our position has been consistent throughout: the City’s role is to protect public health and safety, to enforce the law, and guarantee the rights of all New Yorkers. Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown, and we will continue to monitor the situation.”
As we've reported, and as this statement indicates, it is technically at the discretion of the owner, Brookfield Office Properties, to make the determination about how long the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators will be allowed to stay in the park, and what rules they'll have to abide by.
At the site, after the announcement came through, the scene was jubilant. A few people were cleaning but most were listening to statements being made via "human mic": they were yelled by people in the center of Zuccotti Park and echoed by protesters so that others, farther away, could hear.
Uniformed police officers along Broadway politely asked people to stay on the sidewalks and tried keeping traffic moving. Cedar Street, which runs along the park's southern side, was lined with news trucks from various outlets, with journalists grabbing whomever they could.
Randy Credico, a comedian and political gadfly, was there, in a shirt and tie. Luke Henry, who ran against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in 2008, was there too, in jeans.
I ran into council members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Letitia James and Jumaane Williams. They were smiling.
"This movement is growing" and "has the right to assemble," Viverito told me. She said she was "very happy that it continues to grow and take hold across the nation."
James said, "You can't crush an idea. You can't crush democracy."
Another man with a videocamera standing next to me began interviewing her. She said that "Bloomberg, obviously, is trying to crush an idea."
Williams, standing behind Viverito, told me, "I don't think the mayor wanted to go down as the person who quelled this kind of behavior."
As a group, the three lawmakers, who circulated a letter among their colleagues yesterday evening urging the mayor to hold off from clearing out the park, posed for pictures with various people and walked along Broadway to do another round of interviews.