Besides free pizza, pepper spray and those Guy Fawkes/V for Vendetta/Anonymous masks, one of the enduring symbols of the Occupy Wall Street protests has been the base camp at Zucotti Park. The park reopened in 2006, rebuilt by landlord Brookfield Properties after years of neglect followed by damage on 9/11.
It turned out to be a convenient location for protestors, as it is one of the largest open spaces near Wall Street, but the powerful Brookfield has been trying to evict the protestors all week. Now, the NYPD is taking the side of the protestors for once, saying thanks, but no thanks.
One of the five biggest office owners in the city, the Toronto-based Brookfield typically holds sway with City Hall. At first, it began taking matters into its own hands, posting signs with all the newly forbidden activities—no tents, no sleeping bags, no bikes or skateboards—but it needed the NYPD to enforce any such measures.
(The park is not really a park but a POPS, a privately owned public space, which began popping up all over the city in the 1970s and ’80s. In exchange for building these “parks” and plazas, developers got huge building bonuses, allowing their new office towers to shoot up many more stories.)
Yesterday, according to DNAinfo, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the department could not—or at least would not—bar protestors from Zucotti Park, though it appears he is open to letting Brookfield try and clear the space out:
“In building this plaza, there was an agreement it be open 24 hours a day,” Kelly said of the park near the World Trade Center, which is owned by Brookfield Office Properties but operates as a public space.
“The owners have put out regulations [about what’s allowed in park]. The owners will have to come in and direct people not to do certain things.”
While protestors continue to camp out in the plaza, DNAinfo notes they are also careful to keep things clean and have even set up a recycling center.
It seems clear why neither the police nor Brookfield wants anything to do with driving the protestors out. If corralling a protest at Union Square was bad, can you imagine trying to evict them from their temporary home?