12:35 pm Nov. 2, 20113
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that Occupy Wall Street protesters were focusing their attention on the wrong people. And today, Bloomberg said the protesters are "really hurting small businesses and families" with their prolonged stay in Zuccotti Park.
"I think increasingly you’re seeing that the community, businesses and residents in lower Manhattan feel that they are the ones that are being occupied," Bloomberg said, when asked about the protesters at a press event in Central Park, where the mayor helped paint the finish line for the upcoming New York City Marathon.
"This isn’t an occupation of Wall Street, it’s an occupation of a growing, vibrant residential neighborhood in lower Manhattan, and it’s really hurting small businesses and families," he said, according to a transcript of his comments sent to me by someone who was at the event. "I don’t think there’s anybody in the city that has been a stronger defendant of the First Amendment than this administration and I have been. We worked hard to protect the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights, but other people have rights too. And I am very concerned about the other people’s rights, as well as those of the protesters. Last week, as you know, we removed the generators and fuel from Zuccotti Park for safety reasons, and we are constantly monitoring the situation to preserve public safety, and to guarantee the rights of all people in the city. And no one should think that we won’t take actions that we think are appropriate when we think they are appropriate."
The New York Post reported this morning on a cafe that laid off 21 workers after their business declined following the start of the protests on September 17. Bloomberg's remarks today are a return to the tone he took when the protests began, when he said the protesters were trying to "take jobs away from people in this city." He also said at the time that it was "not good for tourism," a viewpoint that has evolved over time.
In recent days, officials who represent the area, including liberals who generally support the aims of the protest, have become increasingly insistent that the ancillary quality-of-life issues created by the protesters be addressed by the city.