Intro: "'We're being evicted!' the message went out around 1 am. 'The park has been cleared,' the text message read a few hours later, as bedragged, pepper-sprayed protesters, having lost their home in the park, reconvened for a General Assembly in Foley Square and vowed to keep the occupation going. Over 70 had been arrested."
Occupy Wall Street activists are forcibly removed by New York City Police from Liberty Plaza, 11/15/11. (photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
BREAKING: Massive Police Raid Clears Zuccotti Park
15 November 11
UPDATE: 5:00:pm:est - It now looks like earlier reports today that protesters would be allowed to bring tents and sleeping bags back to Liberty Plaza were unconfirmed. OccupyNYC's last text reads, "Confirmed: Court decision has NOT been made yet. Please spread the word and mic." The Guardian reports, "The New York state supreme court has ruled that the Occupy Wall Street protesters have lost their bid to restore a full encampment at Zuccotti Park, where the protests began two months ago.
Earlier today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to re-open the park and allow the protesters to return, but without camping equipment. It now remains to be seen whether he fulfills his promise." -- CW/RSN
11:00:am:est -A massive early morning police raid has cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, New York City. Police formed a 4-block perimeter around the park refusing to allow anyone in. While New York media outlets are currently reporting the raid was 'non-violent,' reports and video from the park paint a far more violent picture. Occupy Wall Street organizers are mounting legal challenges, and regrouping at this hour. -- ma/RSN
e're being evicted!" the message went out around 1 am.
"The park has been cleared," the text message read a few hours later, as bedragged, pepper-sprayed protesters, having lost their home in the park, reconvened for a GA in Foley Square and vowed to keep the occupation going. Over 200 had been arrested, including city council member Ydanis Rodriguez. Blocks away, Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a press conference at which he declared that police would be now able to search people entering the park.
There is a planned post-raid gathering at 9 am at Canal and 6th Street for supporters to regroup and rally. Meanwhile, the National Lawyer's Guild has obtained a temporary restraining order "directing that occupiers be allowed back on the premises with their belongings." Reportedly, this will hold for several hours until a new hearing. However, after some members of the public re-entered the park, they were asked to leave again.
Twitter pictures later in the morning showed Zuccotti Park was bare and stripped--ugly and undamaged, as it was before, after cleaning crews move through. Before that, however, police had heaped protesters' belongings together.
According to Twitter and the Occupy movement's texts as well as press releases from both the movement and the Mayor's office, the early morning raid cleared the protests' two-month-long "model society" of its infrastructure, including spaces and structures like the women's safe space tent, the medical tent, and thousands of books from the "People's Library" - which were seen in the back of a dumpster.
Cops reportedly told people these confiscated items would be available at the Department of Sanitation.
Almost all of downtown Manhattan was blocked off in various ways, and protesters were beaten for being both on the sidewalk and the street.
Watch this amateur video of the beatings:
According to reports on Twitter, an OWS press release, and emails over internal OWS listservs, downtown subways and the Brooklyn Bridge were shut down, airspace was blocked off, and a barricade was erected to prevent supporters who were alerted by text from entering.
Several bystanders who arrived to help were pepper-sprayed or beaten. Read this dispatch from Anna Lekas Miller for one such story. "The police came towards us. I was live tweeting when I realized there was a funny smell and something in my eyes that was making them burn ... I was shoved against a wall by a cop with a riot shield telling me to, 'Keep it moving.' ... Their batons were out. It was violence."
Below are a series of tweets from AlterNet's Kristen Gwynne, who arrived on the scene after 1 am:
- Riot police won't anybody in ows. Looking for alternate route in..ahh hang in there guys
- Cops everywhere. At least 1 pepper sprayed cops pushing us
- Holy shit this us crazy pepper spray, pushing us, beating and arresting peaceful protestors#ows
- They're literally pushing us down cortlandt. Violent cops #ows
These brutal tactics were used on supporters who were in the park and others who were trying to get in to protect the space, as well as some members of the press. LRADs (sound cannons) were seen and some say used, but as of yet but there have been no confirmed reports of them being used.
Perhaps worst of all, there was a media blackout that specifically disallowed press from entering while the space was cleared. Many newspeople on Twitter have expressed anger and frustration about being prevented from reporting on the scene; some were apparently told by the NYPD, "You're not press tonight."
At In These Times, Alison Kilkenny had this report from Twitter: "Some protesters chained themselves to trees in Liberty, and some early reports indicate the NYPD cut down the trees in order to remove the demonstrators."
Around 7 am, the following things were trending on Twitter in New York City:
Here is a timeline of the raid from OWS. Note that some reports in this timeline are unconfirmed:
Timeline of Violent NYPD Raid on Occupy Wall Street
3:36 a.m. Kitchen tent reported teargassed. Police moving in with zip cuffs.
3:33 a.m. Bulldozers moving in
3:16 a.m. Occupiers linking arms around riot police
3:15 a.m. NYPD destroying personal items. Occupiers prevented from leaving with their possessions.
3:13 a.m. NYPD deploying sound cannon
3:08 a.m. heard on livestream: "they're bringing in the hoses."
3:05 a.m. NYPD cutting down trees in Liberty Square
2:55 a.m. NYC council-member Ydanis Rodriguez arrested and bleeding from head.
2:44 a.m. Defiant occupiers barricaded Liberty Square kitchen
2:44 a.m. NYPD destroys OWS Library. 5,000 donated books in dumpster.
2:42 a.m. Brooklyn Bridge confirmed closed
2:38 a.m. 400-500 marching north to Foley Square
2:32 a.m. All subways but R shut down
2:29 a.m. Press helicopters evicted from airspace. NYTimes reporter arrested.
2:22 a.m. Frontpage coverage from New York Times
2:15 a.m. Occupiers who have been dispersed are regrouping at Foley Square
2:10 a.m. Press barred from entering Liberty Square
2:07 a.m. Pepper spray deployed -- reports of at least one reporter sprayed
2:03 a.m. Massive Police Presence at Canal and Broadway
1:43 a.m. Helicopters overhead.
1:38 a.m. Unconfirmed reports of snipers on rooftops.
1:34 a.m. CBS News Helicopter Livestream
1:27 a.m. Unconfirmed reports that police are planning to sweep everyone.
1:20 a.m. Subway stops are closed.
1:20 a.m. Brooklyn bridge is closed.
1:20 a.m. Occupiers chanting "This is what a police state looks like."
1:20 a.m. Police are in riot gear.
1:20 a.m. Police are bringing in bulldozers.
At Pandagon, Amanda Marcotte had this to offer on the destruction of the library:
Media Bistro is reporting that the NYPD destroyed over 5,000 books that have been amassed in the OWS library over the past two months. The young protesters who were volunteering as librarians tweeted the ordeal of watching what has come to be, historically speaking, the symbol of authoritarian governments oppressing its citizens.
"OWSLibrary The People's Library NYPD destroying american cultural history, they're destroying the documents, the books, the artwork of an event in our nation's history.
Right now, the NYPD are throwing over 5,000 books from our library into a dumpster. Will they burn them?
Protesters locked arms and tried to keep the dumpsters full of books and tents from leaving, but obviously to no avail. Personally, I donated about a dozen books to OWS, mostly about feminism in response to requests for more feminist discourse and history. Some of them weren't exactly books you can just saunter into a local library branch or Barnes & Noble to find, either, such as the radical feminism reader. So this image of the books being tossed into the trash is just adding to the emotional distress of this situation.
So don't believe the lies. If this was just about a clean park, there would have been no need to go over the fucking top in the assaults on speech and press that included threatening journalists (and arresting one), squelching witnesses, and destroying over 5,000 books that were provided, free of charge, by supporters who want to assist protesters' desire to educate themselves and, frankly, give them something to do during their downtime.
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