November 16, 2011

De-Occupy Wall Street?

Police cleared out Zuccotti Park early Tuesday morning.

Jessica: On Tuesday, it was police who occupied Wall Street taking over Zuccotti Park, home to thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Evicted from their home, demonstrators marched along the streets. Police cleared the park at one in the morning.

“It was chaotic. They caught us off guard.”

Jessica: It was New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who gave the order to clear the park. He says the First Amendment right to free speech gives the Occupy Wall Streeters the right to protest, but it does not give them the right to take over a park. But that is exactly what protesters have been doing for nearly two months. Demonstrating against income inequality or the widening gap between rich and poor, what started in Zuccotti Park spread all over the country and the world.

But the owners of the park say the park had to be cleaned because it had become unsanitary and hazardous. Concerns echoed by nearby residents and business owners.

“I want to have my lunch in the park and I want to be able to use the merchants.”

“They pee all over the back of the store, they’re not nice, they push customers.”

“A lot of waste dumped behind my alleyway where I dump my garbage.”

Jessica: You mean human waste?

“Yeah, human waste.”

“As long as the protesters are here, our business is threatened. And I don’t know how much longer we’re gonna be able to hold on.”

Jessica: This police raid followed similar ones that shut down camps in cities across the nation like Oakland, California Monday. Here in New York City, most of the protesters followed orders. Those who didn’t were arrested, allowing sanitation crews to enter and hose down the area.

The mayor says now that the park is clean, the protesters can go back to the park but cannot bring tents or sleeping bags. That is because the city argues those materials create fire and health hazards.

Do you think you will be able to continue this protest without sleeping bags and tents during the winter?

“This occupation has gone global, not defined by park. Park is just a symbol.”

“We are staying through the winter. I will walk with just my clothes I’m in and freeze my butt off and get hypothermia and get back up and walk.”

Jessica: Yet police kept protesters out of the park even after the park was cleaned. They were waiting for judges to rule on whether or not tents could be banned in the park.

Late Tuesday afternoon, a New York judge sided with the city, saying the protesters could go back in tents and sleeping bags could not. Despite this setback, the Occupy Wall Streeters say they will continue to push on.

Why is so important to keep going? You have been out here two months. What will change?

“Things have changed and more will change the longer we are out here. It’s changing the way we talk about money, wealth, and politics.”

Jessica: Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.


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