For the first time since Sept. 17, people got a brief taste of freedom on Wall Street yesterday afternoon, when police removed metal barricades that had confined pedestrian traffic since the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
But the freedom was short-lived: Police put the barricades back up last night in anticipation of a possible OWS march.
“Make up your mind!” fumed Pavan Surabhi, 33, who works on Wall Street. “It’s a pain in the a—. I don’t know what the barricades are here for — are they protesting Tiffany’s?”
Police officers at One Police Plaza told Metro the barricades will be erected or taken down “as the situation dictates.” “If they need to be deployed, they will be,” said one cop.
Meanwhile Lower Manhattanites are resigned to life behind bars.
“It’s bizarre, and nobody tells you what’s going on,” said Ed Klonsky, 56, who works on Wall Street. “You ask a cop what’s going on down here and they tell you ‘I’m just following orders.’”
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who owns the Trump Building downtown, reportedly called Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s office to request the barricades be removed, according to Mark Epstein, owner of the Milk Street Cafe on Wall Street.
Epstein, who said he had to lay off 21 people because the barricades stymied his business, told Metro he called Trump to personally thank him.
And even the temporary removal of the barricades is not enough to keep some happy, as lawmakers ratcheted up the pressure on Bloomberg to do more to improve the quality of life in Lower Manhattan.
Mayor warns Occupy
Mayor Mike Bloomberg warned yesterday that the city may start taking a tougher line with protesters. “We are constantly monitoring the situation to preserve public safety and guarantee the rights of all people,” the mayor said yesterday. “No one should think that we won’t take actions that we think are appropriate.”
Protester charged with sex assault
A male protester at Occupy Wall Street who reportedly worked in the kitchen area of the camp was arrested Tuesday and charged with sexually assaulting a female protester while the two were inside Zuccotti Park. Police said 26-year-old Tonye Iketubosin, a Brooklyn resident, touched the 18-year-old victim inappropriately.