Police wearing helmets and carrying shields early on Tuesday began to clear Zuccotti Park in New York City's financial district, where protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement have been camped since September.

The office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the protesters should temporarily leave the park and remove their tents and tarps. The protesters said hundreds of police were mobilizing around the park and that the eviction of the demonstrators was in progress.

Authorities set up bright lights at the park and sought to keep people away from the site as police surrounded it. They said the protesters could return after the park is cleared.

Protesters set up camp in Zuccotti Park on September 17 to protest a financial system they argue mostly benefits corporations and the wealthy. The Occupy Wall Street movement has sparked similar protests against economic inequality across the country, and in some cases have led to violent clashes with police.

Police on Monday moved into an encampment by anti-Wall Street protesters in Oakland, California, clearing out occupants and taking down tents, while in Portland, Oregon, police confronted an estimated 1,000 protesters on Sunday.

The New York Times reported that police told people in the park that the city had determined that their continued occupation of the site posed an increasing health and fire safety hazard. The Times said protesters were ordered to remove their property from the park and that if would be arrested if they interfered with the operation.