Mike Bloomberg, New York City’s billionaire mayor, is taking the first strong step towards evicting #OccupyWallStreet from Zuccotti Plaza, where the occupation has been taking place. Zuccotti Plaza used to be a public park, but was privatized. It is now owned by Brookfield Properties, a company whose board of directors, coincidentally, includes Bloomberg’s girlfriend.
Bloomberg and Brookfield are asking protesters to vacate Zuccotti Plaza in stages so the park could be cleaned. Needless to say, the occupiers have been religious about keeping the park where they have been living for four months very clean and are doing a hardcore cleaning effort today and tomorrow to make sure it is spotless.
Additionally they are putting in strong restrictions about what would and would not be allowed back into the plaza after the cleaning. Brookfield and Bloomberg are banning sleeping bags, tents, and even lying down within Zuccotti Park. Folks on the ground have a clear picture of what is going on here:
Beka Economopoulos, an organizer with Occupy Wall Street, said that the protesters “have worked vigorously to ensure safe and sanitary conditions, and we recognize the importance of being good neighbors.”
She said she feared that the cleaning was a pretext “to end this occupation.”
Driving protesters out of public spaces as a vehicle for breaking long-running protests has been a common tool by powerful elites this year. We saw it in Madison, Wisconsin during the occupation of the capitol; it was done to Los Indignados in Madrid; it was even done in NYC earlier this year, when activists had set up a Bloombergville tent city.
If you’re in NYC, call 311 and tell Mayor Bloomberg not to interfere with Occupy Wall Street tomorrow.
If you’re outside NYC, you can call 212-NEW-YORK and do the same.
We should be crystal clear that this action by Bloomberg, on behalf of Brookfield on its face, but all Wall Street banks and financial firms who are the target of protest is the epitome of class warfare. But more importantly for the #OccupyWallStreet movement, it would completely validate every aspect of their critique of the power financial elites control over the political process, to the point where politicians are accountable only to elites and completely unaccountable to the other 99%. Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t have to move forward with busting up the protests to make the analysis any less true, but if he does, it’s hard to imagine a more powerful representation of what is wrong with America today.
Update (3:03 PM)
Two more notes.
First, I just called NYC 311. Between my time on hold, making my request for Bloomberg to not evict the #OccupyWallStreet protesters, and giving my contact information for follow-up, it took 13 minutes. Best 13 minutes I’ve spent today. MoveOn has a petition to Mayor Bloomberg up and they will be delivering it to him tonight.
Second, #OccupyWallStreet has an official call to action posted. They write:
Occupy Wall Street is committed to keeping the park clean and safe — we even have a Sanitation Working Group whose purpose this is. We are organizing major cleaning operations today and will do so regularly.
If Bloomberg truly cares about sanitation here he should support the installation of portopans and dumpsters. #OWS allies have been working to secure these things to support our efforts.
We know where the real dirt is: on Wall Street. Billionaire Bloomberg is beholden to bankers.
We won’t allow Bloomberg and the NYPD to foreclose our occupation. This is an occupation, not a permitted picnic.