Update: The cleaning has apparently been delayed.
A couple days ago, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he wouldn’t be attempting to evict Occupy Wall Street demonstrators from Zuccotti Park, OWS’s base of operations. But Wednesday Bloomberg visited the Occupy Wall Street encampment in privately-owned Zuccotti Park, and then promptly issued a declaration that Occupiers will be forced to leave the park Friday to allow it to be cleaned.
Bloomberg previously used cleanup and maintenance as a pretext for shutting down Bloombergville. I suspect that city officials have been working on ways for officials and police to shut down the Zuccotti Park encampment since the owners, Brookfield Properties, allowed demonstrators to remain on their property. I am assuming that city officials stand to gain from this situation regardless of the choice made by demonstrators.
Let me just say that for the record I believe Occupiers are right to refuse to leave the premises, instead offering park officials to oversee the Occupiers clean up the park themselves.
That said, the city will take advantage of this situation either way: If the demonstrators do leave, this is an obvious opportunity for officials to shut the camp down in a number of ways, either by changing the rules of the game or by physically disallowing public gatherings altogether at Zuccotti Park. This could be achieved in a number of ways; any way you cut it, Brookfield Properties would likely be involved, as they already have a role in this current development (see this article for more on Brookfield’s involvement.)
Otherwise, when the demonstrators do refuse to leave, police and officials will likely use it as an opportunity to levy an all-out assault on the encampment. This will will be damaging in a number of ways–from using the scene as an opportunity to further smear the reputation of the movement and create fractures within the movement concerning civil disobedience, to the actual physical and mental well-being of demonstrators being damaged. They will likely confiscate, and possibly destroy, much of the equipment at the media center and other pieces of vital infrastructure.
But that’s all speculation.
The point is, this scenario was cooked up by officials as an attack on the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park. I encourage readers to visit the links below, and please take time to comment on what you think will likely happen when officials descend on OWS.
And a hat-tip to The Hand That Feeds You, where I first learned of these developments. Hand That Feeds You author F. Grey Parker is currently trying to raise funds to go report from New York City. Help him out with a small donation; the goal is a modest $250, and any donation will help. Visit the post concerning donations here to give.