11:04 pm Oct. 12, 201119
Wall Street may not be occupied for much longer.
Two days after Mayor Michael Bloomberg said protesters could stay in Zuccotti Park "indefinitely" if they followed the law, the mayor visited them tonight to say they had to be out of there by Friday, according to the mayor's office. The reason given by the mayor tonight was that the park needs to be cleaned.
The request to clean the park is coming from the company that owns it, Brookfield Office Properties, on whose behalf the chief executive wrote a two-page letter to the NYPD asking for help "to clear the Park" and to "assist" on an "ongoing basis" to keep the area safe and clean.
In the Oct. 11 letter to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Brookfield's C.E.O., Richard B. Clark, said the four-week old "trespassing of the protesters" has created "a health and public safety issue that must be addressed immediately."
One safety issue, according to Clark, is that if the "underground lighting" has been "cracked, water could infiltrate the electrical system, putting occupants of the Park at risk of an electrical hazard."
Clark also said a woman complained to the company that she had been "verbally abused in front of her 5-year-old child" and "that she had a package stolen from her as she tried to cross the Park."
"In light of this," Clark wrote, "we are again requesting the assistance of the New York City Police Department to help clear the Park so that we can undertake work at the earliest possible time. We will defer to the Department's judgement on how best to accomplish this, but the Department intervention is necessary both to ensure our ability to comply with our obligations as owners and to make the Park safe for the neighborhood and public."
After the cleanup, Clark said he would like to see "the Department assist Brookfield on an ongoing basis to ensure the safety of all those using and enjoying the Park."
The park in question is open to the public but is privately owned, meaning that it has effectively been up to Brookfield to decide how long the demonstrators would be allowed to stay there. Participants have been camped out in Zuccotti Park since Sept. 17.