Faced with eviction from their base camp of Zuccotti Park for a city-mandated cleaning, the Occupy Wall Street protesters moved on Thursday afternoon to undertake their own cleanup by purchasing supplies out of a $150,000 general fund.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid his first visit to the park on Wednesday and told protesters that they would have to vacate the park on Friday so that Brookfield Office Properties, the park's owner, could send in sanitation workers. Brookfield had sent a letter to the New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly asking for assistance in helping to clear the park, citing unsanitary and unsafe conditions.
The protesters sought to pre-empt that move, voting on Wednesday afternoon to allocate $3,000 towards cleaning supplies that would include mops, brooms and power cleaners. They will seek to clean the park before Brookfield is able to dispatch cleaning crews.
Our sanitation crew has been calling on all Occupy citizens to join us, and now we got our wish, a speaker told the crowd. Protesters in the front row brandished mops and brooms, holding them aloft to signal their approval. I believe this will make us a stronger community, and whatever happens the internationally coordinated efforts we have led will proceed.
Money From Donations
When protesters asked questions where the money would come from, the speaker said that the Occupy Wall Stree's General Assembly had more than $150,000. It was not immediately possible to verify the amount or source of the funding, although numerous protesters attributed the money to donations.
In a press release, Deputy Mayor for Operations Caswell Holloway said that protesters would be allowed to return to Zuccotti Park after the cleaning provided they abide by the rules Brookfield has established for the park. Because Zuccotti Park is a open to the public but privately owned, Brookfield has discretion over whether protesters can remain.
The mayor is a strong believer in the First Amendment and believes that the protesters have a right to continue to protest, Holloway said in a statement. At the same time, the last three weeks have created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park. This situation is not in the best interests of the protesters, residents or the city.
Protesters told Reuters they would resist efforts by cleaning crews or police officers to enter the park, and a Facebook event entitled Operation #wallstreetcleanup called for protesters to position ourselves with our brooms and mops in a human chain around the park, linked at the arms.
If NYPD attempts to enter, we'll peacefully/non-violently stand our ground and those who are willing will get arrested, the event's information section said.
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