Occupy Wall Street banned from camping at Zuccotti Park

Anger and disappointment is erupting from New York City this afternoon, after a judge ruled that Occupy Wall Street protesters must discontinue camping at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

After hours of deliberating, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled this afternoon that protesters would be prohibited from continuing their occupation of Zuccotti Park in Manhattan.

Occupy demonstrators finally became aware of the judge’s ruling hours after an afternoon deliberation — reports first suggested that the court would make its decision by 3 p.m. EST, though it was roughly 4:45 local time before the official word was revealed to the media and protesters. Rumors earlier circulated an hour earlier that protesters would be allowed to reclaim their park, but as deliberations continued, the judge finally bowed to the pressure from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Police department to close down Zuccotti from ongoing Occupy encampment.

"This is probably being perceived as a significant blow to the Occupy Wall Street movement," RT's Marina Portnaya reports from New York City, where she had been covering the OWS movement for weeks, spending several hours today among the protesters.

"They really genuinely believed that the judge was ultimately going to rule on their behalf and that they would be allowed back in the park with their tents, with their tarps, with their sleeping bags," she says. "They really thought that that would be ultimate conclusion, but as we found out . . . a judge delivered a final ruling against the Occupy protesters."

Nearly almost 60 days since Occupy Wall Street protesters first began demonstration in Lower Manhattan, a massive police raid early this morning emptied hundreds of protesters from the Big Apple encampment. First reports from the scene suggested that cops had deployed tear gas on protesters and detained several participants in the Occupy movement, with at least four journalists, including those working for both the AP and New York Times, being arrested for covering Tuesday morning’s infiltration. Other images from the park showed cops attacking protesters on the scene.

A prior decision revealed earlier in the day legally permitted protesters to return to their encampment follow this morning’s raid, but orders from Mayor Bloomberg directly in violation of the court’s orders resulted in hundreds of cops protecting the perimeter of the park and prohibiting protesters from continuing their occupation.

"After it was vacated, after the raid took place and 200 were arrested," says Portnaya, the park became occupied by police officers for upwards of ten hours. "This scene literally has been turned upside down," she says, noting that the entirety of Zuccotti's perimeter had been reinforced with barricades.

Marina Portnaya adds that inside the park, a new ensemble of personnel believed to be a private security firm joined forces with the NYPD to protect Zuccotti.

Police did their best to black-out media from covering today’s events, not only arresting journalists from barring them from reporting on the scene, kicking them from the premises and revoking press credentials.

Despite this morning’s raid, the eviction seemed to have only ignited the momentum of the Occupy movement further. Thousands gathered throughout the day outside a New York City courthouse and Zuccotti Park to offer their support for the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

According to this afternoon’s ruling, “Even protected speech is not equably permissible in all places at all times,” quoting Cornelius v NAACP Legal Defense & Ed. Fund, Inc., 473 US 788, 799 [1985]

The judge adds that “The movements have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators and other installations to the exclusion of the owners’ reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely.”

The ruling continues that protesters will eventually be allowed back in the park but will be prohibited from continuing their 24-hour occupation, which has almost approached its 60-day mark. “The owner of Zuccotti Park has represented that, after cleaning and restoration of Zuccotti Park, it was permit the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators to reenter the Park and to resume using it, in conformity with law and with the owner’s rules.”

Barely 40 minutes after the ruling was delivered, protesters were already allowed readmittance to Zuccotti Park, though are prohibited from bringing in tents, structures, generators and large bags.

Across the country, similar crack-downs have occurred in recent days in other major cities, including Oakland, Albany, Rochester, Chapel Hill and Burlington.

As RT reported earlier today, Oakland, California Mayor Jean Quan told the BBC in an interview this morning that she had participated in a conference call with around 18 other city leaders in the day before her own Police Department conducted a brutal crackdown in Oakland’s Frank Ogawa plaza.