Tue, Nov 15, 2011
Live coverage from Ink reporters and the social media universe, as events unfold in Zuccotti Park and beyond.
The live blog is now closed. Read full Occupy Wall Street coverage here.
The story so far:
- Police evicted protestors from Zuccotti park early Tuesday morning
- A judge issued a restraining order against the eviction
- The city was asked to show cause for the eviction by 11:30 a.m.
- A second judge ruled that although the protests could continue, people would no longer be allowed to bring tents to Zuccotti Park, a move that would ostensibly end overnight occupations when the temperature falls
- Protestors have returned to Zuccotti Park, but it is unclear how they will continue to stay overnight without tents.
- The eviction has brought the movement further into the media spotlight and has galvanized the protestors
- More than 70 arrests have been made.
- Protestors are back in Zuccotti park, and they intend to stay the night
It’s been an eventful day for the Occupy Wall Street movement, and for the city. Through a surprise early morning eviction, scores of arrests, a courtroom drama, and a tent-less return to Zuccotti Park, protestors have responded with replenished zeal.
The Ink’s been with the movement every step of the way. We dispatched reporters to various scenes of the protest over the last 24 hours, and have covered the drama from Zuccotti Park, Foley Square, the courthouse, and King’s County.
This was our first live blog, and it’s been an exhilarating experience. We hope you’ve found our coverage useful and interesting. We’d love to hear your thoughts, tweets, and tweeted thoughts. Reach us by email: email@example.com or on twitter: @thebrooklynink
This is Hiten Samtani, on behalf of The Brooklyn Ink staff, signing off.
Andrew Katz was on the scene between noon and 5 p.m., trying to understand the mood as protestors returned to Zuccotti Park.
Nine-to-fivers were heading back from their day jobs and were gawking
at what was happening. The former occupiers of Zuccotti Park were
being let back into their home of the past two months, and for most,
it was unrecognizable. No kitchen, media tent or medical station. No
clothing store, sanitation hub or library, either. Just plenty of
slate, in-ground lights and trees that haven’t yet lost their golden
leaves. And the nearly 75 New York Police Department officers who were
gradually letting in a single-file line of occupiers, journalists and
protestors to once again move about within the confines of the park.
Read Katz’s afternoon dispatch in full here.
Joey Maestas spoke to Brooklynites Byron and James. “We are here to support the people! We are glad we can finally eat in Zuccotti!”
Ink reporter Ravi Kumar joined Hiatt at 6:30 a.m.
Around 7 a.m., I saw a young girl waking up. She was sleeping on the bare ground using a bag of her clothing as a pillow. I heard her conversation in fragments. She started to speak to the person next to her and I heard the word: revolution. I moved closer to her. She was asking in a concerned voice if her friend had been arrested.
Anna Hiatt was at the park during the witching hours, just before police started making arrests.
Our itch to get a story had turned into impatience, which had turned into rage. We were members of the press, after all. And the park was right there. We had heard the police helicopters overhead and seen the soon-to-be-full paddy wagons driving toward the park. But Zuccotti was just beyond our reach.
Daphnee Denis again, with snapshots from earlier today at Zuccotti Park.
This woman was arrested during the protests.
Amos Fischer, a folk musician, has been participating in the movement since October.
Joey Maestas has an update from Zuccotti Park.
Things seem less tense now. Police are no longer checking bags and are letting people in. Protestors are free to roam, but officers are adamant that no one should be sitting on the walls at the north end of the park. The “people’s mic” is in effect.
Litkick explains how the “people’s mic” works:
A speaker says a few words in a normal voice, no more than half a sentence at a time. The speaker will then pause while many people sitting nearby will repeat the same words together loudly, thus amplifying the speaker. Next, the facilitator explained, those sitting at the far edges of the circle will repeat the same words again, to let the speaker and facilitators know that they are being heard clearly by everyone in the group.
GOOD magazine’s Cord Jefferson has an insightful piece on why the eviction of Zuccotti Park is a blessing in disguise for the OWS movement. Jefferson said that the eviction rejuvenated the movement by turning the media spotlight back on protestors, reinforcing the peaceful image of the movement, and by “wiping the slate clean.”
Do check out the full story on GOOD. A highly recommended read.
Joey Maestas reports that the sidewalk outside the park was packed. Over 1,500 people gathered to add their voices to the movement. The police had established checkpoints at many points outside the park, and were adamant that no one could bring any food in.
Once people were inside the park, the police made sure people didn’t linger on the sidewalk. Officers are scattered throughout the park.
Justin from the OWS media team was shepherding people towards the east side of the park for the general assembly, which involved the crowd chanting an oath: “We are the 99%, and we’re here to stay.”
Our reporter Joey Maestas is at Zuccotti. He spoke to Brooklyner Alex Richards, who is making new signs for the movement.
Ink reporter Emily Judem took this photograph from the edge of Zuccotti, while police continued to keep protestors out.
Olivia Waxman has a dispatch from the courthouse.
The New York Supreme Court may have denied an extension of the temporary restraining order issued this morning, but lawyers for Occupy Wall Street say there is nothing that can stop their clients from sleeping in Zuccotti Park tonight.
The lawyers argued that the decision only mentions that tents and other structures cannot be erected. It does not say anything about sleeping bags. ”In our view there aren’t serious safety and health concerns at the park,” OWS lawyer Alan Levine said at a press conference shortly after the court posted the decision on its website.
“Protesters will continue to occupy Wall Street,” says OWS lawyer Yetta Kurland. “The 99 percent will continue to express themselves. We will continue this fight.” Another OWS lawyer Dan Alterman said that the legal team hasn’t decided whether to appeal yet. “This is just a hiccup in the road,” he says.
Kurland added: “The city has acted so arrogantly today. My official next step is to go back to the office, plug in my dead cell phones, get a cup of coffee, and then regroup.”
City attorney Sheryl Neufeld said she was pleased with the decision. Douglas Flaum, who represents Brookfield Properties, did not take any questions.
The contact info for the city’s attorney is firstname.lastname@example.org
“Despite Mayor Bloomberg initially banning tents, the park was swollen with them. Finding an entrance was difficult. Inside the park, the kitchen was handing out free ice cream and a pair of protesters inside the main media tent pedaled two bicycles hooked up to a generator. The tents had by now taken up much of the space, forcing the protesters to keep to small, marked-off areas like the folding table where four or five people sat stripping cigarette butts for the leftover tobacco, or to the table next to it stacked with dog food and treats for Zuccotti’s canine population.
Many of the tents were closed. Of the ones that were open, the people inside were sleeping, chatting, eating – living.”
Daphnee Denis has been speaking to protestors after the judge ruled against the use of tents in Zuccotti Park. They say that if they can’t stay at the park, they’ll ask churches to give them shelter.
BREAKING: Olivia Waxman has the judge’s ruling:
The restraining order has been denied. Protesters did not prove the tents were necessary to prove their point.
Visit the court’s website for the full decision. A press conference on the decision will begin shortly at the courtroom.
Reporters Anna Hiatt and Jonathan Tayler have been on the scene since the eviction of Zuccotti Park began. This is what they saw.
For more photos from the morning, check out their slideshow: “When the Police Came to Zuccotti Park”
Olivia Waxman, who is Ink’s reporter at the courthouse, says that someone walked out of the clerk’s office and told reporters that the judge is still writing a decision. There may be word by 5 p.m.
There has been some confusion regarding the court’s verdict on the eviction. Several reporters, including our own Omar Akhtar, have heard that the judge has ruled in the protestors favor. But The Ink’s Olivia Waxman, who is currently at the courthouse, heard different. She spoke to Alan Levine, a lawyer for the OWS movement. Levine dismissed a report that claimed the court had ruled that tents could go back into the park. “No such thing, there has been no decision yet,” he said.
Waxman says that OWS lawyer Dan Alterman walked out of the clerk’s office about 20 minutes ago and told the press line that there has been no decision yet. A reporter asked when the decision would come out, and Alterman, quoting Bob Dylan said: “‘the pump don’t work ’cause the vandals took the handles.’”
Slate’s David Weigel noted that a Josh Harkinson piece from this morning reported that police had used the term “frozen zone” when ordering protestors to leave. The term “frozen zone” is used for an area secured by police to guard it from terror threats. Read the full story at Slate.
Gloria Dawson reports on the Occupy Wall Street court order:
After police removed all protesters from the Occupy Wall Street camp in Zuccotti Park early this morning, Mayor Bloomberg said the protesters were breaking the laws of the park.
Protesters fired back by filing an injunction. Occupy Wall Street has moved inside, to the courts.
“The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day,” read a statement by the mayor. “Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with, as the park has been taken over by protestors, making it unavailable to anyone else.”
If granted, the injunction would force the city to restrain temporarily from “(a) evicting protesters and (b) enforcing “rules” published after the occupation began or otherwise preventing protesters from re-entering the park with tents and other property previously utilized” according to the court document.
Mayor Bloomberg said he knew about the injunction and planned to fight it. Jonathan Askin, an associate professor of clinical law at Brooklyn Law School, said he believed the restraining order should hold up in court and the protestors will be allowed to camp in Zuccotti Park. “There are some privately-owned public spaces that have curfews and other restrictions,” he wrote in an email. “Zuccotti Park was not and is not one of those parks. After the occupation of the park, the owner of Zuccotti Park attempted to create new rules governing behavior within the park, including preclusions on camping. These after-the-fact rules are contrary to the agreement that the landlord had made with the city in exchange for its building variances. I don’t believe the landlord now has the right to retroactively change its agreement to preclude camping within the park. It is also questionable whether the landlord has the right to use city police to enforce its own rules.”
After their removal protesters moved to Foley Square. Unlike Zuccotti Park, Foley is a public park run by the New York City Park’s Department. Philip Abramson of the parks press office said that that park, like most public parks in the city, closes at 1a.m.
Daphnee Denis speaks to “The Grandmothers of OWS”.
They’re leaning on a barrier, needles in their hands, knitting what they thought would keep the occupiers warm during the chilly nights of November. Karin Hofmann, 69, and Marsha Spencer, 56, came to Zuccotti Park as soon as they heard of the eviction this morning. Spencer went at 3 a.m. Hofmann got here at 9 a.m. after watching the morning news.
“We don’t stay overnight,” Hofmann says, “but we had some things stored in the tents including chairs and all the donated wood so we could make clothes for the occupiers. All that’s gone. It’s distressing.”
The chairs are what worry them the most. Hofmann says that at her age, she can’t be standing. Spencer was using a chair that she always used to carry when she accompanied her kids to summer camp. She says she’ll miss it.
Both women are the grandmothers of Occupy Wall Street. And they are proud to be. “Ask me about my grandchildren,” says a badge on Spencer’s bag – the one where she carries her wool.
I ask about them.
She tells me proudly she has five grandkids; ages range from seven to 16. “They’re the reason why I’m here,” she adds. “Things have to change for their future.”
Since they arrived at Zuccotti Park, Spencer and Hofmann have adopted a wider family. “I had spare needles,” Spencer says. “People would come sit down with us and knit for an hour or two.”
They made friends at the park; now they’re worried about them. They’re waiting to hear from one woman who used to knit with them. She was sleeping in a tent last night but they haven’t seen her today.
“I know some people have been arrested,” Hofmann says. “We’re concerned, so we stay here. Here’s where we always knit.” She’s wearing a black T-shirt that says, in English and in German, “We will not be silent.” The scarf she’s knitting is black too — it contrasts with her pale skin and white hair.
Hofmann lives in the East Village and came to Zucotti Park because she wanted to see “the conversation change.” Here, she says, it isn’t about “how can I make more money?” but about “how can I help?” The park provided her with better healthcare than what she gets otherwise, she adds. She was widowed in 1985. She’d never planned on having a career but had to start working as a counselor for the aging and sometimes as a substitute teacher after her husband died. Still, she says, “Social Security is what’s keeping me alive now, and even that is threatened. It’s devastating.”
At Occupy Wall Street, she found people who care for her: they bring her food and come see her to have a chat. “The media’s always saying that all the occupiers do is complain,” she says. “All I know is they bring me cookies.”
Judge Michael Stallman will issue a decision by 3 p.m. on whether the restraining order should be extended. Olivia Waxman has details from the courtroom.
Brookfield Properties’ attorneys argued that Zuccotti Park is not meant to be a tent city. The owners feel they will be liable to the city if they do not clean it up and attend to health, waste, and fire safety issues. The attorneys say the park is not meant for habitation. They told Judge Stallman that if the park is cleaned up, protesters can go back and speak freely and sit on the benches — but they should not be allowed to set up camp. Attorneys want the city to help make sure the park gets used in accordance with the park’s rules.
Lawyers for Occupy Wall Street argued that Brookfield Properties made up rules for regulating the park only after the occupation began. Lawyer Alan Levine argued that Brookfield had no greater authority to pass rules on the park than the city of New York and must display a ”compelling” interest for doing so. Levine said fire and sanitation issues can be dealt with in a less restrictive manner, like setting up portable toilets and putting out more trash cans.
Lawyers for Occupy Wall Street argued there was no urgent need for police action earlier this morning. But city attorney Sheryl Neufeld argued that Brookfield has an obligation to make Zuccotti Park “open and accessible to all” and that is currently not the case. She argued there is no clear way to move around the park anymore: “Tents are on top of each other. And the number of tents has increased over the weekend.”
The court room erupted with laughter when Dan Alterman, an attorney for Occupy Wall Street, said the movement served the city with an order at 4:45am and faxed it to the mayor’s office. Neufeld said, “It was 5:00am, how was anyone supposed to get that?” Dan Alterman retorted, “You evicted us at 1:00am!”
When the hearing ended, Alterman said, “I think the judge gave a fair hearing.” Arthur Schwartz, a lawyer for the Transport Workers Union and the Working Families Party, said that “the situation is moving too fast.”
Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer, said:
“Zuccotti Park is not Tiananmen Square.
I call for a full explanation of police behavior in this evacuation.”
Daphnee Denis captured some moments from today’s events.
Our reporter Joey Maestas spoke to Brooklyners about the movement, and what’s next for it. Check out his Storify here.
If you’re unable to go down and see it for yourself, our reporter Emily Judem sends us this video of protesters:
The Ink’s Emily Judem is now on the scene.
Robin Mahonen,56, is from Wheeling, West Virginia. She came to New York on Friday after taking part in “Occupy Wheeling.”
She brought a sign from back home in solidarity with the New York protestors.She says she never thought there would be a protest in Wheeling because of how conservative the city is, and was surprised when almost 200 people showed up. Now she says she will stay in New York at least until protestors are let back in Zuccotti Park.
Omar Akhtar reports from Zuccotti Park.
The mood here is strangely upbeat. The protesters seem galvanized by the eviction and have returned with renewed purpose.
Chelsea Elliott, 25 says that ”for a long time, there was no outside force actively opposing us, plus the media attention was going slow. This event seems to have re-energised everybody. It’s showed us who we’re fighting against.’
The NYPD are now the ones occupying a freshly sanitized Zucotti Park. In a surreal scene, it looks like they are the ones under siege as they are surrounded by a ring of exuberant protesters.
The protesters say that the NYPD are in contempt of a court order issued this morning that is supposed to allow the protesters to return to the park. The order is currently being contested in the courts with both the police and the protesters waiting to take action
after the decision.
Olivia Waxman has an update from the courthouse.
Wylie Stecklow is one of the lawyers representing the movement. The OWS legal team is reviewing the papers that the city served about an hour ago and will argue that the city’s position is “not constitutional.” The city filed papers stating that the park was dangerous and needed to be cleaned. But Stecklow says that “police are creating a more dangerous situation by not letting protesters back in. The situation at the park is more dangerous now than it was before.” He is holding papers filed by the president of the Transport Workers Union of America Local 101 and the Working Families Party. They are requesting to act as plaintiffs so that they can formally support the movement.
Michael Stallman is the judge assigned to the hearing, which will take place in Room 412. The room is filled almost to capacity.
The New Yorker’s John Cassidy writes about what’s next for Zuccotti Park
Emily Judem sends us this photo from the corner of Trinity Pl. and Cedar St. :
Daphnee Denis spoke to Rob Green and Jose Burton, construction workers at the World Trade Center complex. They’re here for their lunch break.
“The bottom line is: We still have nowhere to have lunch at,” says Burton, 26. “First Occupy Wall Street took our spot, now it’s the cops.”
Daphnee Denis spoke to Anthony Accardo, 23, an actor who lets protestors come to his apartment to shower.
Accardo founded a theatre troupe after first coming to Zuccotti Park. “That’s what brought down the Soviet Union, you know, the art?” he says. ”Right now we’re fighting over a bench. But it’s not going to go. We’re not going to go away.”
Ink reporter Olivia Waxman is with the press, occupying the hallway outside room 315 at 60 Centre St. She says that lawyers for Occupy Wall Street are reviewing papers, but there’s still no judge, or even a room.
Ink reporter Ravi Kumar is out at Grand Street and Sixth Avenue.He says that it looks like they are going to be mass arrests. Protestors have broken a lock and about 50 have entered the park next to Trinity Church. People are chanting: “This park belongs to God.” Others are telling the crowd “we’re here as your friends” and handing out red roses.
Ink reporter Daphnee Denis is at Zuccotti Park. She spoke to Beth Bogart, who’s walking around issuing leaflets accusing the city of “breaking the law” by evicting protestors.
Oscar Guinn came this morning to support the protestors. Guinn says that the eviction is “extraordinarily unfair, people try to go through the proper channels and respect the law, and the police doesn’t care.They say that the protestors have to talk to someone else, that it’s not their job. But if anything, that IS their job. to uphold the law, rather than to keep people out of the park.”
“T”, 33, refused to give his full name, but says he has been coming here and “organizing since Day One.” When asked where the movement was heading next, he said “the city’s full of space.”
The New York World reports that a judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the eviction of demonstrators from Zuccotti Park.
Judge Lucy Billings said that the city must halt the eviction and may not prevent protestors from reentering the park with tents and other property.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he is aware of the court order, but will fight it. The judge has ordered city representatives to appear before court and show cause by 11:30 a.m.
Read a transcript of the court order on The New York World.
Our reporter Anna Hiatt is at Grand Street and Sixth Avenue. She says protestors have been there for about 75 minutes. A dozen or so protestors have climbed construction plywood and are sitting atop it with a yellow and black “Occupy Wall Street” sign.
More than 200 protestors are in a triangular paved area along Sixth Avenue between Canal and Grand. They are standing below a statue of Juan Pablo Duarte. There are a few police cars, and media vans from NY1, CBS2, and ABC Eyewitness. Hiatt says that the media presence is thinning out. A lawyer’s guild is standing by, informing protestors of their legal rights.
A protestor holds up a sign: ”From Tahrir Square to New York square, justes for all. We are the 99%”
November 14th: Another normal day at the Occupy Wall Street Protests. Just as it had for the previous eight weeks, an improvised community rose to life, spread its message as best it could, and returned to slumber amongst the tarps, tents, and unforgiving granite rock of Zuccotti Park.
Within an hour of November 15th, all of that changed.
The New York City Police Department moved on the Zuccotti encampment, forcing protestors out of the place many called home. It was 1 a.m. Police created a perimeter around Zuccotti Park, preventing anyone – media or otherwise, from entering the area. The goal was the opposite: everyone must go. Reports of pepper spray usage flooded the Twitterverse. Some chained themselves to the kitchen tent in the center of the encampment, even as other tents were dismantled and discarded, thrown hastily into the back of garbage trucks. The occupiers and all of their possessions, were meant to be cleared immediately. The protestors were, one way or another, removed from the premises.
In a statement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg explained: “At Brookfield’s request, members of the NYPD and Sanitation Department assisted in removing any remaining tents and sleeping bags. This action was taken at this time of day to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood.
“Protestors were asked to temporarily leave the park while this occurred, and have been told that they will be free to return to the park once Brookfield finishes cleaning it later morning. Protestors – and the general public – are welcome there to exercise their First Amendment rights, and otherwise enjoy the park, but will not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags, or tarps and, going forward, must follow all park rules.”
Now the story unfolds. Stay with us as it does. We’ve been there all night and we’ll be here all day.