In what some downtown Manhattan residents and workers would say is a move long overdue, at 1 a.m. on Nov. 15 New York City police officers rousted Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, making the site a ghost town by sun-up.
It remains to be seen whether the protesters will return to the park, but they can if they abide by park rules, said Bloomberg in a carefully crafted statement in an early-morning morning news conference (well-timed in terms of minimizing media coverage). “The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day,” said the mayor. “Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with” because the protesters had taken over the park, “making it unavailable to anyone else.”
Bloomberg’s rather “gentle” message that protesters were still welcome in the park—as long as they behave and don’t stay there overnight—could be a stroke of PR genius, preventing potential violence that has hit other Occupy protest cities, such as Oakland, Calif. While about 150 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested at the outset of the rousting, violence was kept to a minimum. Time will tell whether the Bloomberg administration’s current strategy will work in keep the park relatively clear and minimizing the possibility of violence.