On Monday, I asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg if he had been in touch with Brookfield Properties about Zuccotti Park, and specifically if they had discussed whether it was time to “pack up and get out.”
The mayor dismissed the question and said, “We talk to lots of people all the time.” Indeed they do. But in this case, the question had hit very close to home, since preparations were already underway to end the “occupation” of Wall Street.
The mayor on this subject has always been caught between the two different Bloombergs: the one who likes to see himself as the champion of free speech and the other who understands that the protesters are not the only ones with rights here.
So at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, November 15, the police moved in.
There were 200 arrests made throughout the day and very little violence. Both protesters and demonstrators have been largely restrained. Once again, the NYPD, unlike in other cities, did not use tear gas or rubber bullets. There were no scenes like the one in Oakland.
The police were criticized for keeping the press out. Our Fox Five truck was on the scene for an early-morning live shot, and we were not asked to leave. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says he saw many cameras filming on the other side of the street.
But the fact remains that many others with press passes were kept out. There are no easy answers to this one. I was one who got caught in a scuffle a few weeks ago, and I understand that the delicate dance between the police and the press does not always end nicely. While there are certain hazards that come with the job that you must accept, the police must also realize that the press card does mean something.
On Tuesday night, when the NYPD was actually letting people back into the park, some protesters started abusive chants towards some of the cops, basically trying to make their jobs more difficult.
But later on, when a suspected mugger allegedly assaulted a protester, they ran to the cops for help. Of course.
It’s not clear where the protest goes from here. With the temperatures going down, and with the mayor’s crackdown, the numbers in the park have dwindled. And now that they can’t camp out, it’s quite possible that Occupy Wall Street could be left out in the cold.