Crackdown on OWS: Zuccotti Park Raided Under Media Blackout, Pepper Spray and Batons Used, Tents Cleared Out
By Sarah Seltzer, AlterNet
Posted on November 15, 2011, Printed on November 15, 2011
“We’re being evicted!” the text message went out to Occupy Wall Street supporters around 1 am.
“The park has been cleared,” the fourth 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 all people entering the park. Read his press release, which contains the memorable phrase “no right is absolute,” here.
Later in the morning, the crowd had moved from Foley to a post-raid gathering at Canal and 6th Street. At 9am and onwards, supporters tried to regroup and rally: some marched back to Zuccotti, others took over a small lot owned by Trinity Church.
From Matt Renner at Truthout:
Last night, I watched lower Manhattan turn into a militarized lockdown. The park known as Liberty Square was apparently cleared by force, though I arrived 20 minutes after the police barricades encircled a two-block radius, kicked out all media and prevented all foot traffic on public sidewalks surrounding the park.
This was expected. The emergency text message went out at 1:00 AM and read, “URGENT: Hundreds of police mobilizing around Zuccotti. Eviction in progress!” prompting a mass mobilization of people like me, part-time protesters who signed up to converge on the park for the looming police raid on the physical heart of the Occupy movement.
The police were prepared for this flood of bodies. Many subway stops were shut down, as was the Brooklyn Bridge. My go bag had been packed for weeks, waiting for just this moment. I laced up my boots, and spent an agonizing 20 minutes on the subway from Brooklyn.
Upon arrival in lower Manhattan, I struggled for about two hours to get to a position where I could see into the park, to no avail. From a block away, I saw massive piles of what used to be supplies dumped into waiting trucks. People’s major concerns were two-fold: first, the health and safety of the occupiers locked in the camp; and second, the 5,000 books of the Occupy Wall Street library. What a picture it would be (maybe it exists) of police in riot gear gathering boxes of donated books and loading them into garbage trucks. A perfect metaphor for what appears to be the intention of last night’s raid: destroying the body of knowledge that had been collected by a movement just two months old, which was built by collective effort, literally from the ground up.
After four hours of wandering in groups and alone on the dark, empty streets of lower Manhattan, Foley Square, a park rich with the history of labor struggles in New York City, became the rallying point. After a short discussion with the handful of police on hand, Foley Square was determined to be a safe zone – for the time being.
Here I sit, watching the pulse of the Occupy Wall Street movement strengthen. Stories of arrests are being exchanged over a breakfast of apples and muffins. A sleepless crowd is beginning to be reinforced by New Yorkers from around the city as the morning news streams images of a camp turned back into a barren, soulless corporate park known as Zuccotti. But the drums are back. The spirit and the idea of the Occupy movement has only been strengthened. Today is the end of the beginning, and what has been built cannot be disbanded. Now, we stand at the beginning of the next phase, looking into the eyes of the people who created a new consciousness and a new politics.
Today is November 15, 2011, a beautiful day tainted only by the physical harm of those who left their blood and sweat on the cement of Liberty Park.
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