NY protesters claim victory as eviction postponed

Last Updated: Saturday, October 15, 2011 - 00:03

New York: Anti-Wall Street protesters
declared victory on Friday after New York authorities at the last
minute put off plans to evacuate the park turned tent city
that they have been occupying for the last month.

But at least three people were arrested close to the
square when scuffles broke out with police, a news agency journalist
said.

Police intervened when a group of demonstrators were
walking along the road instead of on the sidewalk, which is
prohibited. One of those arrested had a bloodied face.

Earlier the owners of the property suspended a request for
the city to clear the square for routine cleaning and said
they believed they could reach an agreement with the
protesters, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement.

The demonstrators had vowed a pre-dawn show of strength to
prevent their eviction from the makeshift base that is the
symbolic epicentre of their fledgling but growing movement
which has spread nationwide in recent weeks.

But Brookfield Properties, which owns the site, "believes
they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will
ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public
use," Holloway added.

Thousands of protesters, many of whom stayed up all night
girding for a showdown with police, hailed the decision as a
victory for their demonstrations against alleged corporate
greed and corruption.

"People united will never be defeated!" they chanted after
word of the decision spread through the camp in Zuccotti Park,
located in the heart of the financial district, which the
protesters have renamed "Liberty Plaza."

"It is a big victory for us," said Senia Barragan, a
spokeswoman for the demonstrators, adding the movement had
been helped by the large numbers who came out to support them.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had visited the area late
Wednesday to reassure the protesters that demonstrations could
continue after the clean-up.

But New York police chief Ray Kelly had hinted at a
showdown when he indicated the protesters would no longer be
allowed to carry on camping out.

"I was ready to be arrested, but I`m going to go to work,"
said Zach Loeb, a 27-year-old part-time librarian, who has
helped set up a library in the park.

"I feel thrilled, energized, but my guard is not down,"
he added.

A small band of protesters began camping out in Zuccotti
Park on September 17, preaching an anti-capitalist message
that has resonated in an America gripped by high unemployment
and struggling to emerge from a painful recession.

Sister protest groups have sprung up in other major US
cities, and former American vice president turned
climate-change activist Al Gore on Thursday became the latest
high-profile name to throw his support behind the movement.

Up to 600 protesters have been camping out overnight in
sleeping bags and tents in the New York park, and the
occupation shows signs of permanence: food stalls have sprung
up, an infirmary, an information desk, as well as the library.

But protesters have no toilet facilities of their own and
depend on local restaurants. As their numbers have grown so
have the reports of locals complaining about people urinating
in the streets.

The demonstrators, who deny there are any health issues
and say they tidy the square daily, had conducted a thorough
clean-up on Thursday to try to forestall intervention by the
authorities. Some of their belongings had been removed and
flowers replanted in the beds.

The nationwide activist movement has already had several
run-ins with the authorities.

At the end of last month more than 700 protesters were
arrested for blocking weekend traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge
in New York.

In Boston some 700 police launched the biggest crackdown
so far on the movement in the early hours of Tuesday morning,
descending on parks to arrest more than 100 protesters for
unlawful assembly.

A poll by Time magazine showed 54 percent of Americans had
a somewhat favorable or very favorable view of the protesters,
while 23 percent disapproved and the remaining 24 percent of
those surveyed were undecided.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, October 15, 2011 - 00:03

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