Mike Bloomberg has started to publicly lose patience with the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park. Yesterday, he told the Observer that recent reports of crime and sexual assault in the park were “a very high priority” for the administration and that any withholding of information from the police by protesters “is despicable, and I think it is outrageous and it really allows the criminal to strike again making all of us less safe.”
Today during his weekly appearance on John Gambling’s radio show, Bloomberg said that “we’re not going to tolerate” some of the behavior at Zuccotti. “If you see what happened like in Oakland, we are not gonna have that here,” he said. “That’s not gonna happen here.”
Bloomberg’s pronouncements in recent days have caused the rumor mill at Zuccotti to kick into high gear. Yesterday, many of the of the park’s residents were convinced that an eviction was scheduled for sometime over the course of the night.
At yesterday’s General Assembly, Han Shan, a representative from the Community Affairs working group reportedly spoke to the crowd, saying that they had received “credible information” that “the city has lost its patience and is planning to evict us at some point in the near future.”
Other working groups responded in kind, including the kitchen, which started moving things off-site, according to a source.
Occupier James Molenda, 32, said that this was the first time he’d lent any credence to eviction rumors because “it’s coming from working group people, not somebody in the next tent.” The rumor he’d heard was that the police would come through and clear the park at 2 a.m. He bought swim goggles in preparation for any pepper spray eventualities, and said that occupiers had been encouraged to store their laptops at the storage facility at 52 Broadway.
For what it’s worth, a white-shirted police officer on the scene said he didn’t know anything about an eviction, and doubted that one was scheduled.
The protesters are still there this morning. Jeff Smith, a member of the OWS press team, said that “it just seems like the same kind of chattering rumor mill” that produces eviction rumors regularly at Zuccotti. After street actions, there are usually rumors that police are trying to clear the park, and of course there was the botched Brookfield “cleaning” from a few weeks ago.
Smith thought that the rumors about eviction are “part of the intimidation tactic” on the part of the city. “I think they kind of stage it or make it seem like they’re doing it to see how people would react to it,” he said.
Given the precedent (and potential P.R. fallout), an outright nighttime raid on the park seems unlikely as opposed to more indirect methods, like mandating that the tents come down or simply freezing the occupiers out. “It’s just more games that they’re playing, trying to figure out what angle to push us out on,” Smith said.