DAVID DOUGHERTY, TRNN: Occupy Wall Street protesters camping in New York City’s Zuccotti Park were cleared out in the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 15, as police surrounded the area and removed all demonstrators and tents. Up to 200 people were arrested in the eviction, which New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said was necessary to ensure public safety in the privately owned Zuccotti Park.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Inaction was not an option. We could not wait for someone in the park to get killed or to injure another first responder before acting. Others have cautioned against action because enforcing our laws might be used by some protestors as a pretext for violence. But we must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws. Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest but rather to break laws, and in some cases to harm others.
DOUGHERTY: New York is not the only city to evict occupation protestors from public squares in recent days. The cities of Albany, Oakland, Portland, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Chapel Hill all carried out similar raids on occupation campsites over the past few days. City leaders have cited public safety and health concerns as the main reasons for the occupation evictions. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan recently revealed that 18 mayors had held a conference to discuss a coordinated strategy for dealing with the occupation movements in their respective cities. Dan La Botz is a teacher, writer, and activist who has been participating in the Occupy Cincinnati movement in Ohio. Cincinnati is one of dozens of cities to have removed Occupy encampments from public areas. La Botz suggests that city governments’ moves to shut down Occupy movements also stem from concerns over the symbolic power of occupying public urban spaces.
DAN LA BOTZ, OCCUPIER: When you come to the heart of the city and you occupy the city, you tap into both the history of oppression and the struggle against oppression. And I think it’s a very powerful powerful thing to do. And that’s why it’s so scary to the people that run the cities. That’s why they’ve called out the cops, that’s why they’ve arrested people, because this is a powerful reaching into the very heart of the city, of the consciousness of people. This is the one thing that the powers that be want to control is that city, that powerful symbol, that powerful nexus of all their connections. And we have invaded that space, and we’re turning it into something else. We’re saying this is the source of the power of the 99 percent. It’s the source of the power of the great majority of American people. We’re turning it inside out and saying we’re going to tap into the history of oppression and the history of struggle and make that a force in the country.
DOUGHERTY: In New York, demonstrators have vowed to return to the park as some attempted to occupy other public spaces nearby before being apprehended by police. New York Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings signed a temporary order saying that the protestors were allowed to return to Zuccotti Park with their belongings, but the city and police did not initially appear to comply upon receiving word of the judge’s decision. Thursday, November 17 is the Occupy movement’s two-month anniversary, and protesters are calling for massive demonstrations on Wall Street and in other locations across the country.
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