NYPD Raids Zuccotti Park, Evicting Occupy Wall Street Encampment and Enraging Many

My Twitter feed was spewing a collective stream of awful when I woke up yesterday. Late Monday night the hundreds of NYPD officers overtook the Occupy Wall Street protestors at Zuccotti Park, making mass arrests and confiscating everything at the camp. There’s a lot going on with this right now, a lot of good coverage and a lot of opportunities for you to make up your own mind, and it’s worth learning about the mass arrests, media intimidation and police brutality related to  Occupy Wall Street around the country in places like Portland and Oakland as well. But I will catch you up on the goings on in NYC.

Many people tweeted the raid as reported by Boing Boing, and there was live-streaming available for much of the evenings events including the destruction of the kitchen. And, as noted on Times Up!’s Facebook page, they confiscated those awesome generator bikes: “we just lost 15,000 dollars worth of stuff no warning police came the park occupied wall street street new york city.”

Yesterday several people were reporting that the library of over 5,000 books was destroyed in the raid. In response,  Mayor Bloomberg assured everyone that the library is safely stored at a sanitation garage and will be ready for pick-up today.  I can only imagine the mess it will be to try to reclaim the books along with the many other personal goods confiscated during the raid, which were reportedly tossed together in the back of sanitation trucks and shipped uptown.

Incredibly troubling is the fact that journalists were detained during the raid:

Journalists at the overnight raid of Occupy Wall Street’s New York encampment were kept at a distance from covering it Tuesday, and several were arrested, handcuffed and hauled onto police buses along with hundreds of protesters. At least half a dozen journalists were among those arrested in and around Zuccotti Park and at other protest sites in downtown Manhattan, according to demonstrators and other journalists who photographed and filmed their peers being taken into custody.

There’s even video of journalists being kicked out the park while trying to record the raid.

Why did they evict, and why now? The mayor is saying it’s in response to a letter from Brookfield Properties. Could be, but according to Wonkette, it gets grosser! Turns out, the police evictions at several OWS camps may have been coordinated:

Remember when people were freaking out over the Patriot Act and Homeland Security and all this other conveniently ready-to-go post-9/11 police state stuff, because it would obviously be just a matter of time before the whole apparatus was turned against non-Muslim Americans when they started getting complain-y about the social injustice and economic injustice and income inequality and endless recession and permanent unemployment? That day is now, and has been for some time. But it’s also now confirmed that it’s now, as some Justice Department official screwed up and admitted that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated the riot-cop raids on a dozen major #Occupy Wall Street demonstration camps nationwide yesterday and today. (Oh, and tonight, too: Seattle is being busted up by the riot cops right now, so be careful out there.)

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

The “coordination” that Wonkette is referring to is theorized based on conference calls that are revealed to have taken place between leaders of numerous occupied cities, some reports claiming as many as 40. Speaking with the BBC, Mayor Quan of Oakland said that she was “recently on a conference call with 18 cities across the country who had the same situation,” although she denied that the conference call represented a coordinated effort, and was instead just an instance of “comparing notes.” Other officials have also insisted that the conference calls weren’t an effort to create a joint eviction campaign, but were instead more like “group therapy.” From the Las Vegas Sun:

“It was completely spontaneous,” said Chuck Wexler, director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a national police group that organized calls on Oct. 11 and Nov. 4. Among the issues discussed: safety, traffic and the fierceness of demonstrations in each city. “This was an attempt to get insight on what other departments were doing,” he said.

The park has been re-opened after lots of court orders, and reversal of court orders, and breaking of said court orders. About 30 people stayed the night at the park last night, despite a court order dictating that they will now be unable to use tents or sleeping bags.  There are now also about 20 security guards patrolling the grounds. For video of Zuccotti Park and documentation of some of the legal communication involved, check out WNYC’s coverage.

Maybe you think this is a bunch of distraction from actual political action, or think these freeloaders should quit it with the silly drum playing. Maybe you think they should just get a job. And also, maybe you think these people are breaking all sorts of laws and had it coming. But even if you think the encampment was dangerous and people shouldn’t continue to camp-out in this public space, is there a place to agree that attacking protestors in the middle of the night and prohibiting journalists to report on it as it happens are two signs that history will likely not be on Mayor Bloomberg’s side?

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Jamie lives in Boston and is currently a PhD student in Global Governance and Human Security at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is a freelance writer and also a team associate for the Boston chapter of Hollaback!.

Jamie has written 79 articles for us.

10 Comments

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    I feel like law enforcement is using the few criminal examples and the hygiene problems of OWS to justify shutting down the camps. If I was unemployed and unable to find a job instead of going to school right now, I would totally be out there with them.

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    This article on GOOD kind of sums up my feelings on the whole event: http://www.good.is/post/why-being-evicted-was-the-best-thing-to-happen-to-ows-in-weeks/.

    I fully support the movement and I hope hope hope it makes a difference and things are changed because of it.. but with so many people complaining (online, at least) about the occupation and its risks and whatnot, I feel this may actually be a step forward?

    Maybe it’s because of lack of coverage by the media, but I’ve felt increasingly distant from the original OWS. From my view on the outside, things seemed to have stagnated. The movement initially made an impact on me by forcefully pointing out problems with the system, but without a strong voice reaching past the camps, the movement seems to lack power.

    The way authorities handled the whole situation seems disgusting and ridiculous, but I definitely believe (or hope) good can come out of the whole thing…

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    I initially agreed with the point that OWS was trying to make but the longer these various protests go the less I agree with the tactics.
    I don’t know the specifics of the New York occupation but I know here in Vancouver it has been a long process of back and forth between occupiers and the local authorities (city, fire department, and police). So when the police are eventually forced to go in and disband the encampment it will in no way, shape or form be “without warning”.
    Personally, I think the OWS protests were a great wake up but that it really is time to pack up and start making more tangible plans and movement. I don’t know how but I don’t see how sitting in a park for months on end is actually going to achieve anything more.

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    for the record, the brutality on the part of law enforcement is definitely not okay. i think it sucks that they had to break everything down and they arrested so many people and are prohibiting tents from now on.

    here’s where i throw in my giant “BUT”.

    BUT, considering some of the health and sanitation risks of camping out in a park for two months, not to mention the inordinate number of homeless who aren’t involved except to get a bite to eat, i think it’s totally legit that they kicked them out. i’m thankful that they’re at least letting them continue their protests. it isn’t a complete repression of the protester’s first amendment or right exist there. of course, i could be naive and simply telling myself that this motion was law enforcement’s way of keeping the park a healthy place to occupy.

    i do not believe local governments are conspiring to suppress the OWS movement because to do so would completely strip the value of the people’s influence in the coming presidential election. come on, this is a first world democracy. OWS is just too crucial to push aside.

    and those are my two cents!

    disclaimer: i would like to reiterate that my reference to the homeless was mainly isolating populations of chronically homeless individuals who may or may not be considered a “risk” due to mental health reasons, have been displaced for other reasons, and are not ACTIVELY involved in protesting corporate whoring.

    kthxbai! :D

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    I watched this last night on the news, completely in shock. How can they “confiscate” people’s personal belongings like that? What could possibly give them the right? Why couldn’t they give some kind of warning, like “You need to be out of here in an hour and then we’re coming in and taking whatever’s left”? I mean, that would have been something, at least. I just… I’m so angry right now.

    Do they even realise that by doing this they’ve just made us angrier and more determined not to back down?

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    I don’t necessarily agree with all the Occupiers stand for, which I know is an unpopular position to occupy (see what I did there? See it? See it?), especially on my campus…but clearing out the park with a bullshit reason is, well, bullshit. They have the right to protest, to voice their opinions, and to remain un-bothered as they do so. Plus confiscating that shit can’t be legal. What grounds could the police possibly have had? Besides, Occupy has gotta be good for business in NYC; I know Occupy Philly (the one closest to me) has attracted a TON of tourist traffic. So if I were Corporate, I wouldn’t be too fussed.

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