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Occupy Wall Street: how protesters made the Zuccotti Park eviction inevitable November 26, 2011

It took a couple of hours on 15 November for hundreds of New York Police Department officers, under the orders of mayor Michael Bloomberg for what he claimed were deteriorating health and safety concerns, to tear down the encampment that protesters spent eight weeks constructing in a privately owned public space they came to know as home.

But a week after more than 200 protesters were arrested during a day of action that marked Occupy Wall Street‘s two-month anniversary, the question of how the movement became so vulnerable to an attack lingers.

Protesters were initially portrayed as a nascent movement that objected to what they deemed to be unfair bank regulations, but as the weeks passed and the spotlight turned to the voices of the radicals and clashes with the police, the occupiers were ever more characterized as a purposeless group. A 16 November poll by Public Policy Polling [pdf] showed support among voters was waning, too.

Man Bartlett, an artist and part-time occupier from Bushwick, said it was only natural that the public lost interest and the conversation grew stale. “Like with any new relationship, in the initial phase will be a lot of excitement and a lot of support. As the movement develops and continues to grow, that initial honeymoon period will be over,” he said. “Once the story wasn’t ‘What are the demands?’ the story became more about ‘What are the internal struggles that the movement was having?”

Occupiers survived their first, temporary expulsion by the park’s owner, Brookfield Properties, on 14 October, but issues larger than sanitation began to take precedence over the following weeks. Zuccotti Park had become a breeding ground for problems the protesters could have avoided without a physical location.

The general assembly doubled in time but halved in efficiency and its consensus-based form of decision-making, led by a team of rotating facilitators who spoke loudly and used hand gestures to move through agendas, began drawing fewer occupiers.

A drifter could attend the open meeting and have as much say as an occupier in how thousands of dollars were spent. This ultimately led to the creation of the “spokes council”, essentially a smaller assembly that dealt primarily with finances and logistics. Other issues in the park, including a sexual assault and reported drug use, as well as infighting between some of the more than 80 working groups also flared.

Alec Vincent, a 21-year-old occupier and culinary school dropout from Bay Ridge who made his living at Zuccotti as a shoe shiner, attributed the squabbling to the park’s hippie-homeless vibe and a visible difference between occupiers’ backgrounds. “Even though we’re all on the same socioeconomic level, there’s a class distinction,” he said. “I’m more afraid of an outbreak of violence within the park than from police.”

Eight hours before being ousted, Vincent said eviction wasn’t likely but acknowledged that the emergence of a visible hierarchy had begun to elevate tensions between occupiers. “There’s always leaders. You can’t not have leaders,” he said. “They’re just not official.”

A member of the occupation’s security team, Freddy Cepeda, of Bushwick, saw a leadership core materializing but thought eviction was inevitable because the park had become too unstable. “There’s people that were there for the right reasons and there were people that were there for the wrong reasons,” said Cepeda, 26. “It was just too much.”

At its peak, Occupy Wall Street raised more than $500,000 and drew 10,000 protestors for a demonstration in Times Square in mid-October. Thousands more took the streets in, among other cities, London, Berlin, Tel Aviv and Rome.

But as winter has crept closer, the occupiers erected so many tents that it became difficult to walk through the one-block park. The protesters had outgrown a home they were never entitled to and the mayor wanted to act before the situation worsened. So less than two days after similar occupations in Portland and Oakland were dismantled and the press was largely barred from reporting the raids, he gave the orders to take Zuccotti.

Bartlett, 30, called the move “deeply problematic” but wasn’t shocked the eviction finally happened. For nearly two months, he watched the movement’s initial concern of the bank bailout ramifications erode due to escalating problems within the park and the meaning of the “We are the 99%” becoming largely misunderstood.

“The problem is that not just that the disparity exists, but that the percentage of that one percent that is really exploiting the system and exploiting a huge percentage of the American public,” said Bartlett, who was arrested during the Wall Street demonstrations last Thursday and later pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct. “And it’s difficult to put that into a tagline.”

He added that the movement that began with a tweet from Adbusters had become more structured and self-regulated. Long gone are the days when one “mic check” would be echoed by all of Zuccotti Park and the nights when hundreds of occupiers attended a general assembly that took only one hour. The leaders that few would acknowledge even existed had enacted enough rules that the city within a city was slowly, and publicly, crumbling so that only Guy Fawkes masks and NYPD barricades would be left.

From all this, it’s clear that Occupy Wall Street is down but not out – at least not yet. The movement is sitting on nearly $450,000 and still has encampments in major cities and college campuses across the country. Occupiers lost their park, but they’re staying in the public eye through coverage of how police officers treat the press and students, social media and smaller events, like the recent drum circle outside the mayor’s residence.

The occupation’s immediate future in New York isn’t set in stone. It’s regrouping, analyzing the past two months and hashing out a next move. For one, protestors gathered Sunday night at another location, Duarte Square, and organizers announced both a new “tenting” initiative and a plan to eventually take the space.

• This article was first posted on The Brooklyn Ink.

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NYPD Arrests More Occupy Wall Street Protesters October 15, 2011

October 14, 2011

by legitgov


NYPD Arrests More Occupy Wall Street Protesters 14 Oct 2011 The anticipated conflict between Occupy Wall Street protesters and city officials happened after all on Friday as NYPD officers arrested at least 14 individuals, leaving a few battered and bruised. Many expected a confrontation early in the morning because Brookfield Properties, which owns the park the protesters’ have made their headquarters, planned on cleaning it. Brookfield decided to postpone its cleaning, at which point protesters poured into the streets of lower Manhattan.

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Occupy Wall Street: protesters claim victory as clear-up called off – Friday 14 October

06.30am: Adam Gabbatt writes: Occupy Wall Street protesters are waking up to what may be the final day of their semi-permanent camp in Zuccotti Park, in the financial district of New York.

After four weeks of reluctant tolerance, the private park’s owners have ordered a clear-up. When the operation is complete, protesters will not be allowed to sleep on benches or on the ground, nor put down blankets and sleeping bags.

There was a call for supporters to rally at Zuccotti Park at 6am this morning – and by my reckoning there are more than 2,000 here now. Most flocked to the park in the last hour, avoiding what, at best, was an uncomfortable night.

Some protesters marched to a restaurant where the New York mayor, Mike Bloomberg, was the guest at a food festival event last night (his check-in on Foursquare was the giveaway to his location), but most stayed in the park and mounted their own clean-up operation.

I have been here all night, and up to midnight the crowd was split 50-50 between cleaners and curious onlookers. But a severe downpour at around 1am prompted the departure of the latter group, leaving around 400 hardcore sweepers and scourers.

Further heavy rain drove at least 100 people into the local McDonalds, prompting it to renege on its 24-hour opening boast and shut its doors.

With the enforced clear-out due to begin at 7am, there’s currently a fairly small police presence. I’ll be here throughout the morning on what could be one of the most interesting days of the protest yet. My posts will be marked AG and my colleague Matt Wells, who is monitoring events from a base nearby, is writing the other updates.

6.45am: It has just been announced that Brookfield properties, owners of Zuccotti Park, have called off their plans to clear the area. The standoff that seemed inevitable is now unlikely to take place.

6.54am: Protesters in the park reacted with jubilation to the news that the standoff had been averted. Adam took this video:

Protesters react to news that park will not be cleared

The protesters can be heard chanting: “We’ve won!”

7.12am: The official twitter feed of the New York mayor’s office announced the cancellation of the clear-up. “Late last night we received notice from Brookfield Properties that they’re postponing their scheduled cleaning of Zuccotti Park,” it said. The message was relayed around the park using the now-familiar “human mic” call-and-response system, and was met with cheers from the ecstatic crowd.

7.14am: A group of protesters have now set off on a march. They went round the park first, and have now moved off onto Broadway, chanting: “Whose streets? Our streets!”

Occupy Wall Street protesters march on Broadway after clean-up of Zuccotti Park is called off. Photograph: Adam Gabbatt/

They appear not to be keeping to the sidewalks – the NYPD won’t be happy about that.

7.35am: The impromptu march appears to have taken police by surprise. Police have prevented previous marches from reaching Wall Street proper, but Adam reports that 2-300 marchers made it up New Street, alongside the New York Stock Exchanged. Officers on foot and horseback rushed to the intersection with Wall Street to prevent marchers from turning south, and have ushered them up onto Broadway.

7.51am: It’s pretty chaotic at the moment at the bottom end of Lower Manhattan. Adam reports that instead of heading back to the park, the marchers headed south down Broadway and then doubled back on Beaver Street. Police approached from behind on scooters, and made two arrests. Back in Zuccotti park, news of the arrests is relayed to the crowd.

7.55am: Another group of marchers is now approaching City Hall, while Adam reports that around 4-500 protesters made it back onto Wall Street from William Street, after police earlier blocked them at New Street.

8.09am: This Storify of Adam Gabbatt’s tweets and videos tells the story of a chaotic 90 minutes after the announcement that the enforced clear-up of Zuccotti Park had been called off.

[View the story "Occupy Wall Street: Friday 14 October" on Storify]

Adam is still with the marchers on Wall Street and reports chaotic scenes there.

8.20am: Adam reports from Wall Street that his group of marchers is now heading back for Zuccotti Park.

8.23am: Meanwhile in Denver, Colorado, where protesters have set up a similar camp, police said they were preparing to move in to clear the area. They issued this statement last night:

Pursuant to laws preventing unlawful conduct on state property, individuals illegally gathered at Veteran’s Park have been ordered to vacate by 11 p.m. All tents and structures must be removed from the park, and all overnight activities must be discontinued.

“We have a deep respect for these individuals’ First Amendment rights to assemble and to voice their viewpoints,” said Chief James Wolfinbarger of the Colorado State Patrol. “We are happy to facilitate a peaceful assembly, provided it complies with all applicable laws and permit requirements.”

“We have developed a positive relationship with Occupy Denver’s leadership, and we have encouraged them to comply with the state’s orders,” Wolfinbarger said. “We appreciate their cooperation in seeking a peaceful resolution.”

8.30am: The Denver Post reports that the enforced clear-out of Occupy Denver began in the early hours of the morning, but appears to have reached a stand-off.

Authorities in riot gear moved into the Occupy Denver camp near the Capitol early this morning to dismantle tents and remove debris, but despite warnings that people who remained in the park would be arrested, no arrests have been made.

Instead a kind of calm standoff has formed, with Colorado State Patrol officers and Denver police inching through the park and surrounding streets, usually in groups of a dozen or more, as protesters yell at them, wave signs and at times stand or sit in the street surrounding police vehicles.

Members of Occupy Wall Street celebrate after learning that they can stay on Zuccotti Park in New York Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

8.42am: In New York, mayor Michael Bloomberg is speaking about this morning’s Occupy Wall Street developments on his weekly radio show on WOR710. According to Jonathan Lemire of the New York Daily News, he has been talking about his walk through Zuccotti Park yesterday, saying some people offered food, one person offered “more than that”. Bloomberg said Brookfield may go ahead with its clear-up of Zuccotti in a few days, but it would be harder for police to assist with it. (I’m not entirely clear why this is – he doesn’t appear to have elaborated.) “The longer this goes on, the worse it is for our economy,” he said.

8.47am: I’ve tuned in now, and Bloomberg says he’s concerned about the cost of policing Occupy Wall Street, but he said it wasn’t the “most important thing” that worried him about the protest. “The most important thing is that people have their first amendment right to protest, and their right not to protest and go about their business.”

9.04am: Bloomberg said city officials had put pressure on the Zuccotti park owners to call off the clean-up. “Brookfield got lots of calls from many elected officials threatening them, saying ‘if you don’t stop this we’ll make your life more difficult’.”

9.53am: An update on the arrests earlier: Adam says he saw four people arrested during the impromptu march to the Wall Street area. I also saw reports on Twitter of one or two arrests – these could be duplicate reports, of course.

Police arrest a Legal Aid Society obsever on an Occupy Wall Street march after a planned cleanup of Zuccotti park was postponed. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

As these pictures show, things got pretty tense for a short while.

Occupy Wall Street protests confront police as they march on the street in the Wall Street area in New York. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

We’ll get an accurate figure on the arrests from the NYPD later.

An Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrator stands in Zuccotti Park, New York. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

10.17am: In case you are just logging on, here’s a summary of events in a fast-moving morning.

The real estate company that owns Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, home of the Occupy Wall Street camp for the past four weeks, called off their planned “clean-up” of the park. Brookfield Properties said it wanted to clean the plaza and had asked for the NYPD to help enforce a “no-tents, no sleeping bags” rule, which would effectively have ended the occupation. Fears of an ugly confrontation between police and protesters were averted.

Some protesters marched in celebration towards Wall Street. For the first time since the protests began, some marchers managed to get onto Wall Street proper. Police made a handful of arrests. Other protesters marched on City Hall.

In his weekly radio show, mayor Michael Bloomberg said Brookfield called off the clean-up late last night. He suggested that some city officials – not himself – had put pressure on the company.

Dozens of people have been arrested in Denver as state police moved to clear an “occupy” camp there. Police said at least 24 people had been arrested and that one protester was treated for a minor injury. ABC7 News in Denver reports that a small group of protesters remain in the camp in Veteran’s Park.

10.23am: Adam Gabbatt writes: I’ve been getting reaction from the people here in Zuccotti Park to the news that the plaza’s owners have postponed their planned clean-up. “Fucking exhilarating,” was Tyler Laurie-Spicer’s verdict on the moment the 4,000 crowd learned they would not be evicted from Zuccotti Park.

Apologising for his profanity, the 20-year-old student added: “The call-and-response started saying ‘we have a proposal from Brookfield Properties’, then their faces started lighting up but with call-and-response we were getting the news two seconds after them. There were four sections of the call-and-response but I don’t think it got past two before everyone was just laughing and hugging each other.”

Erin Bridges, 20, flew from California to join Occupy Wall Street on Wednesday, along with 21-year-old boyfriend Zack Erickson. She was “super stoked” at the news. The pair had been staying in a hostel, and arrived at Zuccotti Park at 4.30am. “We were going to be in the lines protecting the park,” Bridges said. “I guess I came here prepared to get arrested, so I was really excited.”

Bob Ballard, 58, drove from California to Washington DC to attend the Occupy protest there, before travelling down to New York. “It was the second time in a week I’ve felt the same thing,” he said. “I was in Freedom plaza in Washington when we were going to be evicted from there, but we weren’t.”

“There was too many people here for them to close it. We have enough numbers, they won’t do anything.”

Semi, 25, travelled from Norh Carolina to be at Occupy Wall Street, but said his joy was tempered. “In a moment there was jubilation, and there was joy, and there was thankfulness to all of those who stayed through the night and cleaned through the night,” he said.

“It was a beautiful moment, but it’s only the beginning of the day, and that adamant feeling of them wanting us out is still here.”

10.28am: We’ve just published a fantastic gallery of pictures from last night and this morning, chronicling the story from the announcement that the park’s owners wanted to conduct a clear-up and to enforce the no-camping rule, to the news this morning that the plan was abandoned, and the subsequent impromptu march.

11.50am: Adam Gabbatt writes: We still don’t have a firm figure from the NYPD for the number of people arrested on the march from Zuccotti Park this morning, but a spokesman told me there were “multiple persons apprehended”.

I thought I’d post some more detail about the march. It began on a wave of jubilation after it was confirmed to the crowd – which I estimate numbered around 4,000 – that the clean-up of Zuccotti (which many suspected was a cover for an eviction) would not happen. At the Broadway side of the park a small number of people attempted to drum up support for a march on Wall Street; with one protester eventually walking from group to group shouting: “We’re marching to Wall Street now.”

Some 200 set off initially, south along Broadway at about 7am, turning left onto Exchange Place and left again up New Street. The police appeared to be caught out by the spontaneity of the action, and officers were only seen for the first time when protesters reached the top of New Street at the intersection with Wall Street – the march breaking into a full sprint as protesters saw police attempting to block the top of the road. Initially some feared the protesters would be kettled, but officers instead funnelled protesters out onto Wall Street and north onto Broadway – in the direction of Zuccotti Park.

By this time a second march to Wall Street was under way, and was itself firmly entrenched on Broadway – meaning that instead of police coaxing 200 protesters back to the park, they were confronted with around 300 more. The enlarged group turned and set off south along Broadway once more, down to Beaver Street and then turning back up William Street in the direction of Wall Street.

At this point, police insisted protesters get back onto the sidewalk, but many refused, instead gathering in the middle of the road. The police attempted to split the group by driving scooters down the road towards them, but the attempt failed, leading to a standoff, which led to much pushing and shoving, and two arrests.

This video, uploaded to YouTube by a protester, shows the moment police tried to split the crowd with scooters:

YouTube footage of Wall Street march

The marchers made it onto the lower end of Wall Street – sprinting at times – and worked their way round to Maiden Lane, where there were further clashes after protesters would not keep to the sidewalk. (In some cases this was impossible, due to the numbers.) Police again used scooters to split the crowd. At least two arrests took place here, at around 8.20am, accompanied by cries from the crowd that the police had been overly aggressive in the way they detained people.

“I think its pretty typical that when the police are tested, they don’t like it very much,” said Christianne Karefa-Johnson, 19, who was visiting Occupy Wall Street for the first time. “But I think the people arrested were trying to rile things up.”

Legal observer Naomi Brussel, 69, said the police appeared to be in smaller numbers than at previous actions. “They were not en masse as they were in the past,” she said, adding: “Today people showed they could go round the police,” referring the almost cat and mouse state of affairs for long periods of the march.

For Donald Grove, 51, who said he had been involved in demonstrating since the 1970s, the march was a “great idea” but he said people involved in the action “may not be used to marching”.

“People are getting excited, going out on the streets and they move too fast. They need to stick together.” He added: “But this is what it is. These people have done something outstanding here.”

1.29pm: In an odd “Occupy” development, the son of the rhythm and blues singer Bo Diddley has been arrested in Bo Diddley Plaza in Gainsville, Florida, after supporting protesters who had occupied the park. I’ve written up the story here – and here’s an extract:

The son of the rhythm and blues singer Bo Diddley has been arrested as he tried to support occupiers of a plaza in Florida named after his father.

A number of protesters, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street takeover of Zuccotti Park in New York, had set up camp at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza in Gainesville.

After the city authorities refused the protesters’ request to extend a permit that allowed them to remain in the park overnight on Wednesday, police moved in on Thursday night and ordered about 50 occupiers to leave. Diddley’s son, Ellas Anthony McDaniel, 56, was among four who were picked up.

1.47pm: I posted a picture at 9.53am showing a legal observer from the National Lawyers’ Guild being arrested by police in the Wall Street area this morning. I’ve found another picture from the same set – it seems the observer was run over by a police scooter.

A New York police officer on a scooter runs over a National Lawyers Guild observer as Occupy Wall Street demonstrators marched in Lower Manhattan. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

Police had been trying to separate the crowd by driving scooters into them (see 11.50am). The moment was captured by Associated Press photographer Mary Altaffer.

2.27pm: I mentioned a crackdown in Denver, Colorado earlier on. We should also note a similar police operation in Seattle on Wednesday, when police charged through Westlake Park, arresting 25 protesters and dragging off tents that had been erected by the Occupy Seattle movement.

Mother Jones is tracking all arrests connected to the Occupy movement in the United States on this Google map.

3.36pm: More on the legal observer hit by a police scooter. This video, uploaded to Vimeo by the East Village local blog, shows the officer running over the observer’s foot, before he was apparently beaten with nightsticks and arrested.

OWS_PoliceScooter from The Local East Village on Vimeo.

A police officer runs over a legal observe’rs foot

The East Vilage’s writeup says:

The man was struck with a baton and arrested moments later as witnesses called out, “You ran over his foot” and chanted, “The whole world is watching.” One bystander hurled a bag of trash at police officers as they pushed protestors back onto the sidewalk.

3.39pm: Earlier I reported that New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show today that “elected officials” had contacted the owners of Zuccotti Park, Brookfield Properties, urging the company to avoid confrontation. One of those officials was New York state senator Daniel Squadron. He said in a statement on his website:

Brookfield Properties’ decision to delay the clean-up of Zuccotti Park creates a window for real dialogue between Occupy Wall Street, the community, Brookfield, and the City.

Yesterday, I stood with the Borough President, community leaders, and OWS representatives to call for further discussion before proceeding with the clean-up.

Late into the night, I had a number of conversations with Brookfield Properties CEO Richard Clark and other stakeholders, urging Brookfield to delay the clean-up.

Late last night, Brookfield Properties made the right decision in postponing its scheduled clean-up of Zuccotti Park. They deserve real credit.

Now, the dialogue must continue. The stakeholders must come together to find a solution that respects the protesters’ fundamental rights, while addressing the legitimate quality of life concerns in this growing residential neighborhood.

4.16pm: Supporters of the Occupy movement interrupted the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who was speaking at an education conference in San Francisco this morning. Reporter Eoin Reynolds sends this dispatch for the Guardian:

Members of the US Uncut San Francisco group stole into the Grand Ballroom at the Palace Hotel where Mr Murdoch was giving his keynote speech Friday morning.

Shouting “Occupy Wall Street, occupy main stream media, occupy private education” and wearing Sesame Street masks, at least seven demonstrators made their way inside.

They made their protests at different times during Mr Murdoch’s speech before being removed by security. Police were called and gave warnings to some of the protesters but no arrests were made.

One of the protesters, who would not give her name, said other people attending the conference grabbed her as she stood up and prevented her from putting on her mask.

Mr Murdoch responded to the disruption saying: “A bit of controversy makes it more interesting.”

Outside a group of about 40 people gathered to protest against the conference, which was organised by former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s Excellence in Education Foundation.

4.45pm: We’re wrapping up today’s coverage with a summary:

The real estate company that owns Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, home of the Occupy Wall Street camp for the past four weeks, called off its planned “clean-up” of the park in the early hours of this morning. Brookfield Properties said it wanted to clean the plaza and had asked for the NYPD to help enforce a “no-tents, no sleeping bags” rule, which would effectively have ended the occupation. Fears of an ugly confrontation between police and protesters were averted.

Some protesters marched in celebration towards Wall Street. For the first time since the protests began, some marchers managed to get onto Wall Street proper. Police made a handful of arrests and an officer on a scooter ran over a legal observer. The observer was apparently beaten by police and arrested.

In his weekly radio show, mayor Michael Bloomberg said Brookfield called off the clean-up said some elected officials – although not him – had put pressure on the company. Later a New York state senator, Daniel Squadron, a Brooklyn Democrat, said he had called the CEO of Brookfield to urge him to call off the clean-up in an effort to avoid confrontation.

Dozens of people have been arrested in Denver as state police moved to clear an “occupy” camp there. Police said at least 24 people had been arrested and that one protester was treated for a minor injury. ABC7 News in Denver reports that a small group of protesters remain in the camp in Veteran’s Park.

We will be back tomorrow with live coverage of more protests that are planned for New York and London. Thanks for reading and for all your comments today.

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Mayor visits NYC protesters, orders cleaning of park October 14, 2011

New York (CNN) — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with Occupy Wall Street protesters Wednesday evening and informed them that the private park where they have been staying for nearly four weeks will be cleaned on Friday, according to a statement from the Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway.

The owners of Zuccotti Park have voiced their concern about the current “unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park,” the statement said.

“The Mayor is a strong believer in the First Amendment and believes that the protesters have a right to continue to protest,” Holloway said in the statement. He added that the current situation in the park is “not in the best interests of the protesters, residents or the City.”

The cleaning will be done in several stages, and when certain areas are cleaned, protesters will be able to come back to the park if they obey the rules set forth by the owners Brookfield Properties, the statement said.

Zuccotti Park was built for the general public.

“I’m glad that he finally found what we were doing important enough to visit after dismissing it for several weeks,” Tyler Combelic, a member of the press relations work group for Occupy Wall Street told CNN. “I’m hoping that the city will be willing to work with the Occupy Wall Street occupiers in arranging a way to get the cleaning done, which both does not disturb the encampment nor does it too greatly impede on the cleaning process,” Combelic said.

Combelic added that these were his personal opinions and that he was not speaking on behalf of Occupy Wall Street.

The protest campaign began in July with the launch of a campaign website calling for a march and a sit-in at the New York Stock Exchange.

For almost a month, demonstrations have addressed various issues, including police brutality, union busting and the economy, the group said.

Organizers have said they take their inspiration from the Arab Spring protests that swept through Africa and the Middle East this year. Crowds have taken up residence in the park in New York’s financial district, calling for 20,000 people to flood the area for a “few months.”

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