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City: Occupy Wall Street Protesters Must Agree to Cleaning Or Get Out [Updated]

Yesterday evening Mayor Bloomberg visited Occupy Wall Street for a while, walking through the park and viewing the inhabitants (we missed him by about five minutes). What he saw combined with complaints from Brookfield Office Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park, has led the city to demand that the protesters clear the area Friday so it can be cleaned. Brookfield sent a letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly arguing that the conditions in the park have become "unsanitary and unsafe" and pose a danger to the occupants and their neighbors:

Brookfield's Letter to NYPD asking to "clear" Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall Street protesters


Bloomberg's office's statement after his visit reads, in part:

The Mayor is a strong believer in the First Amendment and believes that the protesters have a right to continue to protest. At the same time, the last three weeks have created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park. This situation is not in the best interests of the protesters, residents or the City.

The cleaning will be done in stages and the protesters will be able to return to the areas that have been cleaned, provided they abide by the rules that Brookfield has established for the park.

The cleaning is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

Last night at Zuccotti, the OWS Sanitation working group was locked in heated discussion over the news that the city planned to intervene in cleaning the park -- something they'd thought was their job. One woman in a purple fleece hat held court, saying that Sanitation didn't need help and that the Mayor's actions were disrespectful.

But Max Hodes, 28, a hoodie-clad member of Sanitation who's been at the park since Day 1, told the Voice that "we've already planned a similar effort for after the rain."

"A total camp cleanup is already in the works," he said. "But when they show up, we're going to say 'thank you for your help.' It's an endorsement of Occupy Wall Street sanitation, not the other way around."

Hodes is in the minority. It seems that OWS at large isn't ready to accept tomorrow's cleaning. They're not planning to comply with the city's orders:

On Wednesday/Thursday, all campers/supporters should reach out to friends/family/anyone to donate or purchase brooms, mops, squeegees, dust pans, garbage bags, power washers and any other cleaning supplies to be collected at sanitation. The sanitation committee should move full-speed ahead on purchase of bins allocated by consensus at GA.

After General Assembly on Thursday, we'll have a full-camp cleanup session. Sanitation can coordinate, and anyone who is available will help with the massive community effort! Then, Friday morning, we'll awake and position ourselves with our brooms and mops in a human chain around the park, linked at the arms. If NYPD attempts to enter, we'll peacefully/non-violently stand our ground and those who are willing will get arrested.

Afterwards, we'll march with brooms and mops to Wall Street to do a massive #wallstcleanup march, where the real mess is!

Update: There's now a Facebook page for Operation #wallstcleanup. And according to Nick Pinto, OWS is holding a special General Assembly at noon to discuss how they're going to deal with the city's cleaning efforts, which are to begin tomorrow at 7 a.m.

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

Go to Runnin' Scared for more Voice news coverage.


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