After tensions emerged between Wall Street protesters and New York City authorities this week over sanitary conditions in Zuccotti Park, protesters conducted a major clean-up, and the company owning the park canceled their temporary eviction, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday.
Wednesday, NYC authorities informed protesters that the legal owner of the park, Brookfield Property, would conduct a cleaning of the space where the Wall Street protesters have established their Manhattan headquarters almost a month ago. Mayor Bloomberg appeared in the park personally to pass the message that the cleaning would begin Friday.
In response, protesters, who assumed the cleaning was an excuse to disperse them and destroy the makeshift camp they have managed to establish, organized their own, crowd-sourced cleaning action. The park was scrubbed on Thursday night.
The mayor said Friday that Brookfield Properties canceled the plan to temporarily evict the protesters and that the company will try to reach an agreement about guidelines for the protesters staying in the park. But the mayor also expressed concern about people participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement practically living in Zuccotti Park.
"The park was not designed as a place to sleep," Mayor Bloomberg said in his weekly radio show. "Brookfield has regulations that they have put out and that they want to enforce; that they didn't enforce for a while."
Brookfield Properties is the owner of Zuccotti Park, a small square right off Ground Zero. The piece of property was transformed into a park and made available to the public. Mayor Bloomberg seemed dismayed that access to Zuccotti Park is available 24/7 in accordance to the law, therefore making it possible for protesters to live there. The New York City mayor suggested that the real estate company is too soft on protesters.
"The problem is that this is not a public park," he said. "If this was a city park, we have regulations that we can force, that the courts would back us on. We don’t allow people to sleep and set up tents in a park."
He added that protesters gathering in Washington Square Park, which is a city park, obey the rules, because they know the city would enforce them if necessary.
Meanwhile, the protesters have declared that they would resist any attempts to remove them from the park by force.
"What we’re trying to do with this movement is show that the people can enact their own system of management; that we don't need some sort of an untouchable system to micromanage everything that we do on a day to day basis. Including cleaning up our stuff," a protester told The Christian Post Thursday.
Mayor Bloomberg also said in the radio show that people with other points of views don’t have a chance to use the park and express their points of view.
"I think that people have a right to speak, it’s one of the great things about America. But the city's role is to protect the public health and safety and enforce the law,” the mayor said. "The bottom line is I don’t necessarily agree with their message or their targets."
Brookfield Property canceled the clean-up last minute and is set to open the negotiations with protesters.
"Brookfield respects the rights of free speech, assembly, and peaceful protest," Matthew Cherry, the company spokesperson said in a statement Thursday. "The manner in which Zuccotti Park has been used for the past several weeks has created unsanitary conditions."
Cherry added that the company would normally clean the park every day, and that they have already waited too long with the cleaning.