Zuccotti Park: Free at last?
After the NYPD took down metal barricades that once surrounded Zuccotti Park on Tuesday night, Occupy Wall Street members said they hope the move will reignite their cause, even though park security remains strict.
“We’re liberated!” Bronx receptionist and OWS member Carol Browne, 49, said yesterday.
“It’s so much better without the barricades. This will rejuvenate the movement.”
The barricades were removed after the New York Civil Liberties Union and other groups sent a letter to the city’s building commissioner on Monday, arguing that the illegal barricades restricted the public’s access to the park and violated city zoning laws.
“We knew this day would come,” said Rich Sanaria, 38, another OWS member from the Bronx.
Most of the barricades were erected after the NYPD’s Nov. 15 raid, which cleared out the area at the behest of Brookfield Properties, the park’s owner.
“What they were doing was illegal,” Sanaria said of the NYPD. “They’re making up rules as they go along.”
More than 100 OWS members rushed to Zuccotti on Tuesday night to celebrate, but the park still has significantly fewer protesters now than it did prior to Nov. 15, when it was equipped for long-term, overnight stay. The number of protesters fluctuated throughout the day yesterday, from just a dozen in the morning to nearly 30 in the afternoon.
Arrests at park continue
Movement inside the park remains tightly restricted by Brookfield’s private security guards.
Protesters are still not allowed to sleep in the park, per Brookfield’s rules, and three protesters were arrested Tuesday night after they tried to lie down on park benches.
“Some people tried to lay down to see what would happen,” said protester Rich Sanaria. “Hundreds of officers surrounded us and three people were arrested.”
One OWS member was even reprimanded for handing out donuts yesterday morning, as private security guards told them people cannot distribute food in the park.
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro