An ugly scene unfolded in Lower Manhattan overnight, as local officials, who had permitted Occupy Wall Street protestors to maintain their demonstration in Zuccotti Park, launched an early-morning raid.
Hundreds of police officers early Tuesday cleared the park in Lower Manhattan that had been the nexus of the Occupy Wall Street movement, arresting dozens of people there after warning that the nearly two-month-old camp would be “cleared and restored” but that demonstrators who did not leave would face arrest.
The protesters, about 200 of whom have been staying in the park overnight, initially resisted with chants of “Whose park? Our park!”
As has been the case in other cities, the forcible eviction from Zuccotti Park raised questions about excessive force and unnecessary arrests.
For his part, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was “temporarily” forcing protesters to leave, and that activists would be able to return to the park — though they would face new restrictions, including a ban on tents and sleeping bags.
That would, of course, defeat the purpose of the whole “occupy” element.
As for what’s next, there are reports the demonstrators were regrouping in nearby Foley Square. In the meantime, a New York judge this morning reportedly issued a temporary restraining order that allows the protest at Zuccotti Park to begin anew, pending a hearing scheduled for later this morning.
* Update: This is never a good sign: “The unexpected raid was accompanied by an attempted media blackout, as the police prohibited reporters (including those with press passes) from going to the park, closed the subways leading to downtown Manhattan, and even prevented news helicopters from flying in the airspace over the park.”