I’m sorry to be late to this item which broke this afternoon, but I’ve been off the grid all day, and hope readers seeing this now have or will take action to support OccupyWallStreet.
Bloomberg has decided to crack down on OccupyWallStreet, and the ruse being used is that Zuccotti Park needs to be “cleaned” as in cleared. I was down at OWS on Tuesday and remarked that it was notably cleaner than most New York City streets.
The cleaning is device to force the removal of the belongings of people encamped there; they will not only not be permitted to bring their goods back, but even lying down on the ground or benches or putting a covering on the ground will be prohibited going forward.
This is a reversal of Bloomberg’s position as of two weeks ago:
The bottom line is – people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we’ll allow them to,” said Bloomberg as he prepared to march in the Columbus Day Parade on Fifth Avenue. “If they break the laws, then, we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do: enforce the laws.”
The protestors have broken no laws, and it is not at all clear that lying down in the park really is a violation of park rules. Brookfield Properties, a real estate investment trust, agreed to operate the space as a park in return for zoning variances.
Brookfield was clearly not too happy about the occupation as of September 28; if lying down in the park was a violation of their rules, it seems pretty likely they would have taken action sooner. One has to wonder whether the park amended its rules for the purpose of evicting OWS. If so, I can’t see how this is kosher; this is retrading a deal Brookfield entered into years ago. If you change the terms of an agreement (which this effectively did), you’d expect Brookfield to have to pay the city in exchange for restricting use of the plaza or offer some other consideration. Given that Bloomberg’s long standing significant other Diana Taylor is on the board of Brookfield Properties, this is all a little too cozy.
The clearing is set to begin 7:00 AM on Friday. You can:
1. Go to Zuccotti Park at 6:00 AM. Dress nicely and bring a camera
2. Call 311 if you are in New York or 212 NEW YORK to complain. Long hold times (I waited 14 minutes) but they will take a statement in full. You can log you calls at Credo
3. Sign the MoveOn petition which will be delivered to Bloomberg
4. (hat tip Sarah K) Call Brookfield Properties CEO Ric Clark at 212-417-7000 to object to his violating the rights to free speech and of assembly of American citizens.
If Ric is not available, you should call Melissa Coley, VP of Investor Relations at 212-417-7215 or email her at Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org.
See the OWS notice here.
Lambert Strether reports that petitioners supporting OWS let their desires be known to Bloomberg at dinner at Cipriani’s, forcing the mayor to exit via a back door.
Update 12:15 AM: The New York Times posted a copy of a letter from Brookfield alleging the the protestors, among other things, violated the law (drug use, lewdness, blocking walkways). But most are based on complaints from workers in the area; how many are trumped up charges by people who don’t like what OWS stands for?