[UPDATES BELOW] Any protesters who didn't drown like rats during last night's Biblical thunderstorm are awake and riled up in Zuccotti Park this morning , where they're expected to resist any move by the NYPD to forcibly clear a western section of the park for cleaning. It's believed that the park's owner, Brookfield Properties, is imploring the NYPD to clear parts of the park in shifts starting sometime after 7 a.m. Gothamist's Christopher Robbins is at the park, where the unofficial crowd estimate is around 3,000.
Somewhat surprisingly, the NYPD decided not to move in during the dead of the night like their counterparts in Boston, so any confrontation will presumably take place after sunrise. The protesters' refusal to vacate doesn't have so much to do with the cleaning as with the new rules that police will implement on behalf of Brookfield after the cleaning—no sleeping bags, tarps, or other large personal possessions will be allowed, and sleeping on the ground and benches will be prohibited.
Around 4 a.m. a man began passing out "tear gas onions" and instructed everyone "to eat the onion if you get tear gassed." We're told that the protesters will only allow city sanitation to clean the park 1/3 at a time, and will make human columns to prevent the sanitation crews from cleaning the other two thirds.
Update 5:55 a.m.: Robbins tells us the crowd is roaring, and a man is using the "people's mic" to shout "We will not be defeated! This is our revolution!"
Update 6:20 a.m.:Occupy Wall Street spokesman Patrick Bruner tells us, "I don't see how we can implement the two-thirds plan. There's too many people here for anyone to move around." Asked if the protesters are encouraged by the support of City Council Members, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and other, Bruner said, "We welcome any support, it doesn't matter if they're elected officials or celebrities."
Last night around midnight actor Mark Ruffalo made another appearance at the park, and said he wished he could stay the night, but couldn't because he's filming a movie this morning called Thank You For Sharing, which is about sex addicts.
Update 6:23: a.m.:Three thousand people have been asked to stand in solidarity around the perimeter of the park, and roughly 75 people have been assigned to occupying 2/3 of the park at all times. A Direct Action rep using the "people's mic" just told the crowd: You may not be able to resist arrest but stay in this park in any capacity! Our time is now!
Update 6:31: It was just announced that Brookfield Properties and the Mayor's office have been persuaded to postpone the cleaning. Back to bed! LONG LIVE ZION!
Update 6:38 a.m.: Here's the statement from the Mayor's Office, via Business Insider:
Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park - Brookfield Properties - that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation.
Our position has been consistent throughout: the City’s role is to protect public health and safety, to enforce the law, and guarantee the rights of all New Yorkers. Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown, and we will continue to monitor the situation.
Update 6:43: a.m.: Now that the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have a good 3,000 people down there, a march is being discussed. On Twitter, Robbins writes, "Brookfield/Bloomberg really did #OccupyWallStreet a favor by holding back that release. If decided 'last night,' why wait?"
Update 6:45 a.m.: We're told a "party on Broadway" was just announced. (For our sake, we hope it's a slumber party.)
Update 6:52 a.m.: Here's rather exhilarating video, courtesy Jeff Seal, of the pumped-up crowd chanting in unison:
Update 7:01 a.m.: Councilmember Jumaane Williams somehow made it to Occupy Wall Street without getting arrested, and tells us, "Victory in this movement comes when disparity is addressed...I'm excited--look at all these people!" Robbins says, "The NYPD completely ceded the barricades to the crowd at the east side of the park now that Williams is here. This is a HUGE change from the norm."
Update 7:23 a.m.:Robbins reports on Twitter that NYPD scooters have arrived and are "somewhat ominous," marking the first time in history that the words "ominous scooters" have been used in the same sentence. He says he's most protesters are content to stay in Zuccotti Park, but a small march is heading toward Bowling Green.
Update 7:30 a.m.: More protesters have joined the march, which is currently headed south on Broadway. According to a tweet from the NYCLU: "Things tense now, 2 marchers jump barricade, get arrested."
Update 7:38 a.m.:Robbins: "NYPD scooters blocking protesters, shoving very chaotic. Protesters briefly sit at Exchange and Broadway, getting very tense. Some want to be arrested."
Update 7:42: a.m.: Robbins estimates that there are a thousand people on Bowling Green. "At least 10 scooters are shoving people down the street," he says, "and at least 17 cop cars pulled up at Broadway and Beaver. There are cops in white shirts with batons drawn pointing out people to arrest, and cops in blue shirts wading into the crowd. Massive police corrections school buses are here to receive the protesters."
Update 7:47: a.m.: Robbins calls to tell us, "A protester kicked a scooter after a cop ran into him. The cop got off the scooter, chased the guy down, and now they're beating him. At least five people being arrested at Beaver and Broad."
Update 7:52 a.m.: There is a large confrontation between police and protesters unfolding at Exchange Place and Williams Street, where protesters are occupying the intersection and refusing to leave. Media is everywhere, but the scene is chaotic, and Robbins tells us more arrests are imminent.
Update 8:00 a.m.: Robbins just witnessed "an officer in a white shirt named Cardona punch a protester in the face at William Street. The protesters were slowly walking on the street, and one demonstrator wasn't moving fast enough, apparently. There are probably 50 video cameras out here and it's all on video. Now there are maybe 500 people marching south on Wall Street, in the middle of the street."
Update 8:12 a.m.: Robbins calls with this update: "There's a violent confrontation at Pearl and Maiden. A protester tried to steal an NYPD megaphone and got arrested. The infamous "hipster cop" is on the megaphone telling protesters to back up. People are throwing food, and it looks like another five or six demonstrators were arrested. For a moment, people talked about 'heading back to camp,' but now there are about 500 people on either side of the street, at Pearl and Maiden. I'm watching police beat protesters now on Maiden Street."
Update 8:25: There's a rumor (apparently false) circulating through the protesters participating in the march that the NYPD is clearing Zuccotti Park. It appears the bulk of the protesters are headed back to the park.
Update 8:34 a.m.: In a radio broadcast, Mayor Bloomberg said that Brookfield called off the cleaning at midnight. (So it took City Hall 6 hours to write the press release!) "There has to be some resolution eventually," the Mayor said, but at this point he is leaving it up to Brookfield, at least, publicly.
Update 8:50 a.m.: Occupy Wall Street issued a press release about the cancelled cleaning:
Over 3,000 people gathered at Liberty Plaza in the
pre-dawn hours this morning to defend the peaceful Occupation near
Wall Street. The crowd cheered at the news that multinational real
estate firm Brookfield Properties will postpone its so-called
“cleanup” of the park and that Mayor Bloomberg has told the NYPD to
stand down on orders to remove protesters. On the eve of the October
15 global day of action against Wall Street greed, this development
has emboldened the movement and sent a clear message that the power of
the people has prevailed against Wall Street.
“We are winning and Wall Street is afraid,” said Kira Moyer-Sims, a
protester from Portland, Oregon. “This movement is gaining momentum
and is too big to fail.”
“Brookfield Properties is the 1%. They have invested $24 billion in
mortgage-backed securities, so as millions face foreclosure and
eviction due to predatory lending and the burst of the housing bubble
that Wall Street created, its not surprising they threatened to evict
Occupy Wall Street,” said Patrick Burner, an organizer with Occupy
Wall Street from the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. “But
Brookfield and Bloomberg have backed down and our movement is only
growing as the 99% take to the streets world wide to call for economic
The early morning announcement from the Mayor’s office in New York
came after 300,000+ Americans signed petitions to stop the eviction,
and flooded the 311 phone network in solidarity with those in Liberty
Square. At 6 AM this morning, 3,000+ New Yorkers, unions, students,
and others joined the occupiers in the square to send a clear message
to the 1% who want to silence this peaceful assembly of the 99%.
Donations poured into the protesters from Italy, England, Mexico and
many other countries by everyday people hoping to help the movement
“For too long the 99% have been ignored as our economic system has
collapsed. The banks got bailouts and we’ve been sold out, ” said
Harrison Schultz, business analyst from Brooklyn . “Wall Street’s
greed has corrupted our country and is killing our planet. But today
we celebrate victory and vow to keep fighting for justice and change
on Wall Street, and in over 100 cities in the US and over 950 cities
(Additional reporting by Bethany O'Grady, who spent the night in the park.)