Protesters return, but fewer in number, to NY park
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Last Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 09:09
New York: A couple dozen demonstrators resumed their Occupy Wall Street protest Thursday in New York's Zuccotti Park, a day after the movement's weeks-long vigil against corporate greed was scattered by police.

One demonstrator said that three people were arrested overnight for lying down, in violation of newly-enforced rules that also prohibited sleeping bags and camping gear in the park.

Of those who were in the park, one man slept with his head on a granite table, while another dozed on a bench. Police also arrested one demonstrator early today who was involved in a scuffle.

For two months, Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park had been home to a makeshift tent village that was the symbolic epicenter of a movement that has inspired similar protests in other US cities and abroad.

But police early yesterday cleared the park and arrested about 200 of its occupants in a surprise pre-dawn operation, leaving cleaning crews to cart off piles of tents and other gear before scrubbing the square clean.

Later in the day, a judge ruled that while owners of the park and the authorities could not deny protesters their constitutional right to freedom of speech by banning entry to park, the protesters must abide by a ban on camping out there.

"Zuccotti Park will remain open to all who want to enjoy it, as long as they abide by the park's rules," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement after the court decision.

Protesters were allowed to begin returning late yesterday, but the handful who spent the night were deprived the comfort of sleeping bags after the city began enforcing the park's no-camping prohibition.=

Still, protesters were elated at being allowed back into the Manhattan park, owned by Brookfield Properties, which they have been occupying since mid-September.=

Officers let the protesters back in one-by-one at a newly-created checkpoint.

"No one will be denied entry," a police officer said at the gate, as people began to wander back in again.

Bloomberg said the judge's ruling "vindicates our position that First Amendment rights do not include the right to endanger the public or infringe on the rights of others by taking over a public space with tents and tarps."

Demonstrator Dallas Carter, 32, said the protesters "have to go back to court to get the tents and sleeping bags again. But it's still a victory."

"The police don't have too much choice," said another activist, Mike Reilly, 28, from Philadelphia.

"The movement will survive in one way or another." another."


First Published: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 09:09

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