Occupy Wall Street Sleep-In Gets Rude Awakening From NYPD
Apr 2012 16

Occupy Wall Street Sleep-In Gets Rude Awakening From NYPD

Posted In Activism,Blog,Politics

by Blogbot

Since April 9, Occupy Wall Street protesters have been physically occupying Wall Street. Armed with sleeping bags and a copy of the 2000 Metropolitan Council Inc. v. Safir court ruling – which sets a precedent for legal overnight street vigils – protesters have been camping out on the sidewalk at the intersection of Broad Street and Wall Street, in the shadow of the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall National Memorial, which stand cater-corner to one another.

With temperatures rising from nighttime lows of 43 °F earlier in the week to 66 °F on Sunday evening, sleeping outdoors has been transformed into a positively pleasant prospect, which no doubt has the NYPD on edge. As one protester put it when we visited last night, sleeping on the street under these balmy conditions was actually preferable to spending the night in the confines of her dank and dusty Brooklyn basement residence.

However, the increasingly idyllic vigil got a rude awakening at around 6 AM this morning, when the NYPD apparently decided to move in and remove the protesters – despite the fact that the law appears to be on their side in this instance. Indeed, campers had taken care to ensure they complied with guidelines suggested by the National Lawyers Guild. These included taking up no more than 50 percent of the pavement so as not to block it, and not utilizing any kind of cots or structures, which might easily attract the contention of authorities.

When we left the Wall Street “Sleep-In” at around 4 AM, the atmosphere was distinctly jovial and relaxed, with protesters noting that unlike the President they were actually making a positive difference as they slept. However, less than two hours later, the NYPD apparently broke up the OWS slumber party.

OccupyWallSt.org reports:

At least four people have been arrested and Occupiers are currently assembled on the steps of Federal Hall (which is under jurisdiction of National Parks police), where they are discussing whether or not to reject demands they submit to a daily permitting regime. Consensus at this point favors delaying until additional legal help arrives on scene. For the moment, National Parks police appear to be tolerating a limited Occupy presence on Federal Hall steps, but mass arrests may be imminent. A motion for an emergency injunction against NYPD disruption of our sidewalk protests on Wall Street was reportedly filed this morning.

And New York Magazine, which carried more detail on specific arrests, noted that:

Controlling the narrative seems important for the city in the wake of last fall’s turbulent clearing of Zuccotti Park: Stamping out this new trend before it grows — and gains widespread media attention — is ideal, lest an Occupy Wall Street renaissance seem possible to not just the protesters, but to the public. For the city, fighting a few demonstrators in court might be preferable to facing growing numbers of them on the streets again.

Photography: © Nicole Powers 2012

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