After Mayor Bloomberg briefly visited (and check out the video) the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park last night, his office released a statement formally ordering the protesters to cooperate with sanitation workers who will be dispatched to clean the park on Friday. "The cleaning will be done in stages," the announcement reads, "and the protesters will be able to return to the areas that have been cleaned, provided they abide by the rules that Brookfield has established for the park." But the demonstrators, who have been occupying the park for almost four weeks, aren't buying it. Instead, they're going to clean the park themselves. Their declaration reads:
On Wednesday/Thursday, all campers/supporters should reach out to friends/family/anyone to donate or purchase brooms, mops, squeegees, dust pans, garbage bags, power washers and any other cleaning supplies to be collected at sanitation. The sanitation committee should move full-speed ahead on purchase of bins allocated by consensus at GA.
After General Assembly on Thursday, we'll have a full-camp cleanup session. Sanitation can coordinate, and anyone who is available will help with the massive community effort! Then, Friday morning, we'll awake and position ourselves with our brooms and mops in a human chain around the park, linked at the arms. If NYPD attempts to enter, we'll peacefully/non-violently stand our ground and those who are willing will get arrested.
Afterwards, we'll march with brooms and mops to Wall Street to do a massive #wallstcleanup march, where the real mess is!
It seems unlikely the city will go along with this compromise. Brookfield Properties, which owns the park, recently sent a letter to the NYPD explaining, "Brookfield protocol and practice is to clean the park on a daily basis, power-washing it each weeknight, and to perform necessary inspection, maintenance, and repairs on a regular, as-needed basis. Since the occupation began, we have not been able to perform basic cleaning and maintenance activity, let alone perform more basic repairs. For example, if the lenses to the underground lighting have become cracked, water could infiltrate the electrical system, putting occupants of the Park at risk of an electrical hazard or causing short-circuiting which result in repairs requiring the Park to be be torn apart for rewiring."
The letter goes on to add that any such repairs would require the park to be closed for "indeterminate periods of time." Brookfield wants the NYPD to facilitate clearing the park for cleaning, and, tellingly, to "assist Brookfield in an ongoing basis to ensure the safety of all those using and enjoying the Park." This could mean that when the demonstrators are allowed back in the park after the cleaning, the NYPD could start enforcing the park rules which Brookfield disseminated among protesters two weeks ago.
These rules explicitly prohibit tarps, sleeping bags, storage of personal property on the ground, lying down on the ground, and lying down on benches. It's conceivable that the NYPD could prohibit protesters from returning to the park with such items, which are necessary to sustain any long term encampment. It's unclear if this is the unstated intention behind this official cleaning, but naturally the protesters have little trust in the NYPD and city government, and they're bracing for a confrontation.