Earlier today, Occupy Wall Street obtained a court order from a Manhattan judge allowing them to re-occupy downtown’s Zuccotti Park after being forcefully evicted during last night’s violent NYPD raid clearing out the park. Despite having obtained a temporary court order against the city, the NYPD aren’t allowing the protesters back into the park, as more head over there now. Here’s what’s happening as the skirmish develops:
The New York Daily News reported that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings—who signed the court order early this morning allowing protesters back into the park—was accused of having ties to the ACLU, and has since been pulled off the case:
At 6:30 a.m., Billings signed the hastily prepared order declaring cops cannot evict protesters who aren’t breaking the law or stop protesters from entering with tents.
Her involvement will be short-lived.
Court officials were scheduled to use a computer program to pick a new judge for an afternoon hearing on the restraining order — the proceeding that will determine if the tents can be erected again.
Billings’ name was not included because she usually handles real estate cases, court officials said.
The Observer‘s Adrianne Jeffries is reporting that protesters have been marching down Canal Street and are headed back downtown towards Zuccotti Park. Protesters are being handed out copies of the court order as they march:
A giant Statue Of Liberty puppet is at the front of the throng:
Back at Zuccotti, Animal New York’s Bucky Turco reports that Brookfield Properties—the owner of Zuccotti Park—have now employed their own private security for the park, who are the ones seen wearing the neon vests below:
Capital New York’s Azi Paybarah just obtained the letter from Brookfield Properties to Mayor Bloomberg, dated yesterday, requesting assistance from the city in clearing the park. Brookfield wrote:
Brookfield has no issue with citizens using the Park for peaceful assembly and protests. However, the park was never intended to be a tent city nor to be used in a way that puts the health and well-being of its occupants and the local community at risk. The manner in which the Park is being used violates the law and is in violation of the zoning permission granted by the City in 1968 and renewed in 2005 following the Park’s reconstruction due to the events of September 11, 2011.
Conditions in the Park have deteriorated to the point where safety is an urgent issue. Crimes including rape, assault, theft, drug peddling, and harassment are being reported on a daily basis. Although some arrests have been made for individual incidents, there are no doubt numerous additional unreported crimes taking place out of the sight of the law and inside tents that have been erected without permission and in violation of City building codes. In addition to the growing unlawful activity, the media is reporting violence, outbursts of bigotry and escalating unsanitary conditions which threaten public health.
Emphasis ours. While the letter would ostensibly appear to be the spark that gave way to last night’s fiery police action, Capital’s Dana Rubenstein reports otherwise. Again, emphasis ours:
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, it wasn’t until around midnight last night that the owners, Brookfield Office Properties, were alerted to the city’s plans. That was an hour before the operation began, and, given its success, likely long after it had been planned.
Brookfield’s spokeswoman, who is away at an investor’s conference, could not be reached for comment.
The New York Daily News has had one of their reporters arrested, Matthew Lysiak, and have contacted the NYPD’s PR arm, DCPI, about the incident. Lysiak also captured film of police throwing and manhandling protesters before he himself was detained.