Occupy Wall Street protesters sought to regroup Tuesday morning after the police forcefully evicted them from their encampment in Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park in the middle of the night.
By 6 a.m. Eastern time, the park was empty save for orange-vested sanitation workers cleaning in the incipient dawn light, moving freely through what had been a labryinth of tents and stations devoted to functions like food and outreach. Police had blocked off entry to the park with barricades, and a few protesters lingered, trying to peer in.
Later Tuesday morning, a National Lawyers Guild member told the International Business Times he obtained an order from a New York State Supreme Court judge to let Occupy Wall Street back into Zuccotti Park.
At nearby Foley Square, the site weeks before of a massive union-backed protest that offered a show of the movement's apparent resilience, protesters tried to restore order and a sense of direction to a group diminished by arrests.
People appeared dazed and dispirited, some of them sprawled out asleep on the pavement. A speaker asked if anyone needed medical attention, and then pleaded for the help of anyone who had experience facilitating the call-and-response sessions that have been essential to the movement's debate and decision making.
It would be very useful if we could get our facts straight, he said, asking if anyone had contact information for labor unions who were rumored to be on their way.
Nicholas Isabella, 24, described watching a phalanx of police trucks encircle the park around 2 a.m. as sanitation workers began haphazardly piling up people's possessions.
Many occupiers were arrested after they tried to lock arms and resist and police officers pushed others out of the park, said Isabella. He displayed text messages that he said were from protesters who had been sitting in police vans for hours.
We knew it was going to happen eventually, said Isabella. If you expected it not to, look around the country. This will make us stronger, though.
At a Tuesday morning press conference held about 8:30 a.m., New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said the eviction was temporary, and driven by health and safety considerations.
Protestors were asked to temporarily leave the park while this occurred, and have been told that they will be free to return to the park once Brookfield finishes cleaning it later morning, Bloomberg said, in a statement. Protestors - and the general public - are welcome there to exercise their First Amendment rights, and otherwise enjoy the park, but will not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags, or tarps and, going forward, must follow all park rules.
From the beginning, I have said that the City had two principal goals: guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protestors' First Amendment rights, added Bloomberg. But when those two goals clash, the health and safety of the public and our first responders must be the priority.
Monitors from the National Lawyers Guild were unable to estimate how many people were arrested -- other reports put the number around 70 -- but said police seized and disposed of medicine and patient files.
There was no legal justification that was actually vocalized or addressed, said guild attorney, Joel Kupferman. Excessive force was used in many cases.