NY Times November 15, 2011 In a Wrestling Match Over Space, a Sudden Shove By JIM DWYER Over the routine din
of Union Square, you could hear the drills and their spiraling whines. All around were sights that went with the sounds. Sheets of raw plywood, set on sawhorses, measured twice and cut once to size. A woman on a stepladder, a pan of red paint in reach, the swabs of her brush laying holiday color on the wood. A man atop a counter, clipping light fixtures onto a rack that ran overhead, fed by electrical cables that roped along the back of the stall. The southern end of Union Square Park pulsed with the joyous noise of things being put together on Tuesday afternoon. The annual holiday market, a place of much charm, was being erected. More than 100 stalls were set up for vendors who, for the most part, seem to be catering to the arts and crafts equivalent of the Greenmarket, feeding locavore appetites. The entire operation is organized by a private company that sets up markets like this around the world; in New York, the city receives $1 million for essentially leasing the parkland for the Christmas shopping season. In this park, tents and generators were not only officially welcome, but also would be in place around the clock for the next five weeks. As it happens, a few hours earlier, the police had evicted people squatting downtown in Zuccotti Park. Those people were told that they could come back, but without tents and generators, which were deemed to be dangerous and hogging all the room in the park. There is no end to the wrestling match for space in New York, only breaks in which everyone goes to a corner to contemplate the next moves. Not every park can be turned over on a permanent basis to commercial or to political interests, no matter how fine the handmade jewelry may be in the vendor stalls, or how important the argument passed along by megaphone. That is, we have to share. About five years ago, the same judge who said on Tuesday that the city could ban camping in the park gave an opinion in a case involving mass bicycle rallies. “The social compact and the realities of living in a crowded place demand patience, mutual respect and self-restraint,” Justice Michael D. Stallman wrote.
This may sound like the stuff taught in kindergarten, but it is also the kind of wisdom that lasts. And it applies not only to people occupying parks; it also ought to be heard by those in charge of carrying out evictions. With no notice, the city arrived around 1 a.m. with a military plan to evict the demonstrators and to remove their belongings. Helicopters, bulldozers, klieg lights and a small army were marshaled to the scene. From the police perspective, the lack of forewarning may have seemed tactically prudent: last month, when the city announced that it wanted the park emptied temporarily for a cleaning, a brigade of protesters arrived to block what they saw as a transparent ploy to stop the occupation. Yet what worked for a night might not last. Not giving people a day or two, or even an evening, to get out of there with their stuff brought the police dangerously close to looking like bullies. Over the last two months, the Police Department has, in the view of many on the scene, avoided confrontations and accommodated marches that had not been arranged ahead of time. The most striking exception to this equanimity was the reckless, needless pepper-spraying in late September by a deputy inspector of several young women who were standing on a sidewalk. (Initially, the police commissioner and his chief spokesman said the women had provoked the pepper-spraying with “tumultuous” behavior. Later, however, the commissioner punished the inspector by docking 15 days of his vacation and transferring him to a new job.) The video of that pepper-spraying surged across the Internet. Suddenly, Occupy Wall Street, a movement defined loosely as being a protest against economic injustice and inequality, had human faces and voices: the women screaming on the ground. That clip wasn’t the only reason that the movement got attention, but as symbol and substance, it was hard to beat. Talking people out of Zuccotti Park or giving 72 hours’ notice might have been exercises in futility. But they weren’t tried. And for the most part, television cameras were kept at a distance. Doing tough things in the dark, when no one can see you, is not one of the lessons they teach in kindergarten. ---------------------Daily News NYPD deliberately kept reporters and legal observers away during Zuccotti Park raid
Crackdown comes ahead of Thursday marches NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, November 15 2011, 11:49 PM Paul Taggart/Bloomberg Police arrest an Occupy Wall Street protester downtown Tuesday following an overnight crackdown in Zuccotti Park. The hundreds of cops who carried out the raid on Zuccotti Park deliberately kept the press and even legal observers away from the scene — thus hiding the city’s actions from public scrutiny. Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly deny that. The nighttime sweep simply aimed “to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park . . . to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood,” Bloomberg claimed Tuesday. The crackdown, of course, came just ahead of major solidarity marches planned for Thursday by unions and community groups on the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The biggest of those marches was planned for right here. Bloomberg’s raid will likely make Thursday’s march even bigger. PHOTOS: NYPD FORCES EVACUATION OF OWS PROTESTORS “This heavy-handed act has made us more determined to support these kids,” one city union leader said yesterday. There is, for instance, the case of City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights), who rushed to Zuccotti Park when the raid started and was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Several people detained with him told me Rodriguez was bleeding badly from a gash in his forehead. Still, by 6 p.m., he had not been arraigned and his lawyer, Leo Glickman, had not been allowed to see him. “We’re not asking for special treatment,” Glickman said. “We’re asking for him to be treated like everyone else — and he’s not . . . It’s an effort to silence him and silence this protest.” Retired Supreme Court Judge Karen Smith can’t believe what she saw this week. At the urging of her son, who joined the Zuccotti Park protests weeks ago, Smith had volunteered to be a legal observer in case of mass arrests.
She received a text message early Tuesday that a bust was imminent, so she got to Zuccotti around 1:30 a.m. As she exited the subway at Broadway and Dey St., she met a wall of cops in riot gear who were preventing people from getting anywhere near the park. “There was a black woman standing next to me,” Smith said. “She kept frantically telling the cops her daughter was in park and she wanted to make sure the girl was okay.” “All of a sudden, a cop takes his baton and cracks her in the head,” Smith said. “She hadn’t done a thing. Then they started chasing people down the street.” Smith’s efforts to get police to recognize her as a legal observer proved futile. Likewise, several reporters who were arrested while covering the protest found their press credentials worthless. Our mayor repeatedly says he is a defender of free speech. But the First Amendment, Bloomberg notes, “does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.” Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Michael Stallman bought the mayor’s argument and ruled in the city’s favor. Amazingly, even as cops cleared Zuccotti Park of the rebel tent camp, other tent structures, complete with generators, were going up at other parks, with City Hall’s blessing. At Union Square Park, for example, rows of tents have already been erected for the annual holiday market so vendors can sell their trinkets through Christmas. A second tent market will soon spring to life at Central Park near Columbus Circle. Pay the city rent, and tents are fine. But tents and generators so people can protest Wall Street greed? That’s an unhealthy idea that requires immediate police action. Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nypd-deliberately-reporters-legalobservers-zuccotti-park-raid-article-1.978235#ixzz1dtOGahAN -----------------------------http://www.observer.com/2011/11/why-do-vendors-get-tents-in-parks-and-not-occupywall-street/ NY Observer 11/15/2011 OCCUPY WALL STREET
Why Do Vendors Get Tents in Parks and Not Occupy Wall Street? By Matt Chaban 10:11am Protest art! Robert Lederman, a crusading artist and a bit of crank who was a frequent antagonist of Mayor Giuliani, thinks the Bloomberg administration is being two-faced in expelling the Occupy Wall Street protestors tents from Zuccotti Park. He points to tents set up for holiday markets as the unjust, commercial expropriation of public space. The holiday vendors have permits, of course, and a portion of their proceeds goes to the parks they occupy, so there appears to be a public good here, whatever your opinion of overpriced tchokes. Mr. Lederman has his own agenda, as he has run afoul of the city for trying to sell art in parks without permits. Still, his thoughts, which he just emailed around, are intriguing in light of last night’s events. Mayor Bloomberg claims that tents are not allowed in NYC parks. Ask him to explain the giant tents being set up right now in Union Sq Park and in Central Park at Columbus Circle for the corporate run Holiday vending Markets. These tents are set up for more than a month straight, 24 hours a day. They completely displace pedestrians, residents and park visitors for a fee of millions of dollars. Mayor Bloomberg says generators are not allowed in NYC parks, yet the Holiday Markets operate huge generators as do most of the Greenmarket vending stands in Union Sq Park. There is even a weekly Greenmarket set up right outside the Mayor’s office with huge tents and generators. Mayor Bloomberg says protestors cannot sleep in parks, yet he allows more than 100 homeless people to sleep in Union Sq Park every night. Instead of pretending that the Mayor is a defender of free speech, perhaps the media can ask him to explain these totally inconsistent policies. mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC