This protest isn’t trashed.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told Occupy Wall Street protesters that after the park is power-washed and scrubbed down Friday morning at 7 a.m., sleeping bags, coolers and other gear will not be allowed back into the park.
Zuccotti Park owners, Brookfield Properties, papered the park with the new rules Thursday. But protesters say they will prevent cops and cleaners alike from stepping foot in the park by creating a human shield around its perimeter starting at 6 a.m. Friday.
“We’ve already decided that they’re not going to come in here,” said Stacey Hessler, 38, a protester from Florida. “We’re going to lock arms and not let them in.”
Deputy NYPD Commissioner Paul Browne said that if protesters defy Brookfield’s new regulations, they could be arrested for trespassing or disorderly conduct.
“They literally said we can’t occupy,” said Diego Ibanez, 22, a community organizer from Utah. “If they come, we’re going to resist. Those who are OK with being arrested will stay here. Those who won’t, will be witnesses.”
Protesters frantically cleaned the park on Thursday afternoon, hoping that their last-minute cleanup will prevent Brookfield’s private cleaning staff from coming in.
On Friday morning, more than 3,000 people gathered at the park to stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, and it worked.
Brookfield called it off moments before the scheduled cleaning.
“Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park – Brookfield Properties – that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance,” said Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway on Friday morning. “Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters.”
Protesters say they’ll fight Bloomberg to stay at the park, but admit they may lose to Mother Nature.
“The weather, besides the constant harassment from the city and NYPD, is our biggest enemy,” said Matt Erickson, 27, a carpenter from Iowa.
The cold temperatures and constant drizzle the last few days have made several protesters pick up and leave.
“People woke up this morning shaking and freezing,” said Spirit Fox, 18, a student from New York.
Dry clothing has become a precious commodity and they are seeking more donations.
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Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.