An unconfirmed number of Occupy Wall Street protesters have been arrested during a surprise early morning raid and eviction of Zuccotti Park, where protesters have been camped for two months.
It was shortly after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, November 15, when word began to spread that the New York Police Department had surrounded the park and used a long-range acoustic device (LRAD) to disperse the crowd. The announcement came in emails and text messages as press access was blocked, but live video feeds of the proceedings – which reportedly include tear gas and police in riot gear making individual arrests – were being broadcast online at http://www.livestream.com/occupynyc and www.livestream.com/occupy_liberty.
According to one Brooklynite, the “police have a multiple block radius sealed off around Liberty [Street]. There are supporters & witnesses at least on the north & south of the square but they’ve disallowed press in the square. [The] crowd [is] in good spirits. [There are] hundreds of police in full riot gear.”
According to the Associated Press, around 70 people were arrested overnight, including some who chained themselves together – reportedly by linking arms and also using chains on their neck to prevent abuse.
These arrests included reporters and photographers from the Associated Press and The New York Daily Newswho were detained hours after the raid in the general vicinity of Zuccotti Park.
The action came following the announcement on OWS’s website that they were planning to “shut down Wall Street” with a demonstration. The show of police force sparked immediate mobilization of supporters from across the city, including Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Sunset Park and Bedford-Stuyvesant, into Manhattan to see it for themselves, with thousands of others from around the world gathering online to express support.
Some time after 3 a.m., filmmaker Michael Moore sent a message via Twitter calling for Occupiers and their supporters to rally in Foley Square, north of City Hall and across from the U.S. Supreme Court building.
By 4:30 a.m., the gathered masses began to split between a spot near Broadway and Pine Street, and Foley Square.
At 6:30 a.m., a temporary restraining order was issued prohibiting the NYPD from making any more evictions from Liberty Park “unless lawful arrests for criminal offenses,” and allowing protesters back in with tents or other property previously utilized, and prohibiting the enforcement of “rules published after the occupation began.”
The restraining order was obtained with help from attorneys working with the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) who are working as the Liberty Park Working Group.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stated that the city will fight the restraining order in the interest of “protect[ing] public safety.”
Bloomberg also defended the surprise nighttime raid as being designed “to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood.”