The Panic in Zuccotti Park: Protesters Rousted After Two-Month Occupation

As Bloomberg, Brookfield get tough, city wonders what's next.

Clashes in the park and along the various barricades resulted in about 200 arrests, according to the mayor. One of those who was arrested was Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who had organized an 11-mile march in solidarity and was seen by fellow Councilman Jumaane Williams bleeding and being taken from the park.

Despite the violent clashes along Broadway’s “Canyon of Heroes,” the real action that would come to define the next day’s standoff wasn’t occurring at the barricades. As soon as the eviction began, the National Lawyers Guild, a nonprofit organization whose members are known by the green hats their observers wear to marches and rallies, set out to secure a temporary restraining order against the police from the State Supreme Court.

“There’s a procedure for getting the attention of a judge in the middle of the night,” Gideon Oliver, a Guild lawyer, told The Observer.

Justice Lucy Billings signed the order at 6:30 a.m.

At his press conference, approximately two hours later, Mayor Bloomberg reneged on his promise to allow protesters to return to Zuccotti and blamed the court order.

“We had planned to open it at 8 o’clock this morning,” he said. “We even said to the police to start letting them in. About 50 people went in … and then we are told that this judge has issued a restraining order.” As a result, he said, “We have closed—reclosed the park and are asking the 50 people to leave.”

If the Bloomberg administration assumed the eviction would cause the protesters to disperse, it appeared to be mistaken. In the past two months, people have traveled long distances to the tent city. Many of the protesters are miles from home, or have no home to speak of. They simply have nowhere else to go.

Banned from their base in the financial district, protesters regrouped on Canal and Sixth Avenue (after a brief detour in Foley Square) for a post raid rally at 10 a.m. Police assembled as well, armed with riot gear, zip tie cuffs and a police bus. One protester managed to set up a tent in the park before a standoff and a few scuffles led to 10 to 15 arrests, according to witnesses.

Around 1 p.m., the occupiers at Canal and Sixth decided it was time to “go home.” A calm group led by a papier-mâché Statue of Liberty and a row of protesters carrying an “Occupy Wall Street” banner started marching in the direction of Zuccotti Park. The group was rather merry in spite of the night’s trauma. The drums started up; gawkers assembled outside Chinatown shops, iPhones held high; and cars honked in appreciation. “All day, all week! Occupy Wall Street!”

One protester passed around copies of a rough draft of the temporary restraining order forbidding police from clearing Zuccotti Park, which some started using as flag.

The Panic in Zuccotti Park: Protesters Rousted After Two-Month Occupation