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Published on November 15th, 2011 | by Lorna Gledhill
Image © [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="333" caption="(c) DoctorTongs"]Occupy Wall Street[/caption] New York City authorities began clearing the Occupy Wall Street protest camp in the early hours of this morning, with the Mayor Michael Bloomberg calling on campaigners to “temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps.” With riot police entering the park at 01.00am (06.00 GMT), protesters were faced with the following announcement from the NYPD: “The city has determined that continued occupation of Zuccotti Park poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard.” According to the police, protesters are allowed to return to the site but are not allowed to camp. Coupled with the forcible removal of the camp’s generators in late October, the authorities are managing to dismantle the movement, piece by piece. The police spokesman Paul Browne was keen to emphasise the fact that the park was not heavily populated at the time of clearance, yet the Associated Press reports that at least 70 people have been arrested during the operation. The notices from Brookfield Office Properties, owners of Zuccotti Park, stated that protesters must “immediately remove all equipment” and cooperate with authorities or face arrest. It has been reported that 15 individuals have been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, whilst the reasons for the remaining 55 arrests are unknown. As the authorities trampled through the 2-month old protest camp, the atmosphere was inevitably tense. As riot police and sanitation officers entered Zuccotti Park, they were met with shouts of “the whole world is watching” from the protesters. The NYPD positioned large floodlights on the edges of the Park in order to illuminate the camp, undeniably heightening tensions between Occupy Wall Street and the authorities. Despite Zuccotti Park being made to look like a Hollywood film set, press reporters and photographers were not allowed to access the camp. Journalist Ryan Devereaux stated that the “media were repeatedly directed away from the square and were eventually confined to a metal pen at the far end of the block. Police buses were later parked in front of the pen, blocking clear shots of the park.” Another reporter following the event tweeted that riot police prevented him from getting a closer look at an injured campaigner. This journalist was later forcibly removed from the camp, being advised that this was for his own “safety.” This move by the NYPD came as Occupy Wall Street organisers put out a notice on their Web site claiming that they planned to “shut down Wall Street” with a demonstration on Thursday. Acting in order to prevent and punish prior to the event, the New York City authorities seem rattled by the established camp in Zuccotti Park. The beginning of November has witnessed a swathe of heavy handing policing of different Occupy movements across America and Canada. Police arrested dozens of protesters last week in Berkley, California when they first attempted to pitch tents on campus, whilst police in riot gear arrested 50 people in Portland, Oregon on Sunday evening. This return to ‘total policing’ is something echoed in the MET’s relationship with both anti-cuts and Occupy protesters in the UK. The demonstration on the 9th of November saw a seemingly 1:1 ratio of policing, hoards of undercover officers and an incredibly strict marching route, from which individuals were unable to deviate. With agent provocateurs agitating impassioned crowds and police managing a walking kettle, are we really given a genuine right to protest without intimidation or fear of reprimands? There have already been reports of police using teargas, pepper spray and zip cuffs on protesters in the removal of the Occupy Wall Street protest, but as journalists and reporters were confined to the outskirts of the operation, it has taken hours for footage and photographs to emerge from the camp. It is important for the world to re-engage, but engagement is difficult when the authorities are allowed to control the mediums of communication. Yet, another peaceful demonstration has been removed on the grounds of health and safety. Another peaceful demonstration has been intimidated and aggravated by police. Another peaceful demonstration has forced the debate about the hold of big business over government. The whole world may not be watching yet, but they are set to tune in.

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“The Whole World is Watching”: Police clear Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street

(c) DoctorTongs

New York City authorities began clearing the Occupy Wall Street protest camp in the early hours of this morning, with the Mayor Michael Bloomberg calling on campaigners to “temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps.” With riot police entering the park at 01.00am (06.00 GMT), protesters were faced with the following announcement from the NYPD: “The city has determined that continued occupation of Zuccotti Park poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard.” According to the police, protesters are allowed to return to the site but are not allowed to camp. Coupled with the forcible removal of the camp’s generators in late October, the authorities are managing to dismantle the movement, piece by piece.

The police spokesman Paul Browne was keen to emphasise the fact that the park was not heavily populated at the time of clearance, yet the Associated Press reports that at least 70 people have been arrested during the operation. The notices from Brookfield Office Properties, owners of Zuccotti Park, stated that protesters must “immediately remove all equipment” and cooperate with authorities or face arrest. It has been reported that 15 individuals have been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, whilst the reasons for the remaining 55 arrests are unknown.

As the authorities trampled through the 2-month old protest camp, the atmosphere was inevitably tense. As riot police and sanitation officers entered Zuccotti Park, they were met with shouts of “the whole world is watching” from the protesters. The NYPD positioned large floodlights on the edges of the Park in order to illuminate the camp, undeniably heightening tensions between Occupy Wall Street and the authorities. Despite Zuccotti Park being made to look like a Hollywood film set, press reporters and photographers were not allowed to access the camp. Journalist Ryan Devereaux stated that the “media were repeatedly directed away from the square and were eventually confined to a metal pen at the far end of the block. Police buses were later parked in front of the pen, blocking clear shots of the park.” Another reporter following the event tweeted that riot police prevented him from getting a closer look at an injured campaigner. This journalist was later forcibly removed from the camp, being advised that this was for his own “safety.”

This move by the NYPD came as Occupy Wall Street organisers put out a notice on their Web site claiming that they planned to “shut down Wall Street” with a demonstration on Thursday. Acting in order to prevent and punish prior to the event, the New York City authorities seem rattled by the established camp in Zuccotti Park. The beginning of November has witnessed a swathe of heavy handing policing of different Occupy movements across America and Canada. Police arrested dozens of protesters last week in Berkley, California when they first attempted to pitch tents on campus, whilst police in riot gear arrested 50 people in Portland, Oregon on Sunday evening.

This return to ‘total policing’ is something echoed in the MET’s relationship with both anti-cuts and Occupy protesters in the UK. The demonstration on the 9th of November saw a seemingly 1:1 ratio of policing, hoards of undercover officers and an incredibly strict marching route, from which individuals were unable to deviate. With agent provocateurs agitating impassioned crowds and police managing a walking kettle, are we really given a genuine right to protest without intimidation or fear of reprimands?

There have already been reports of police using teargas, pepper spray and zip cuffs on protesters in the removal of the Occupy Wall Street protest, but as journalists and reporters were confined to the outskirts of the operation, it has taken hours for footage and photographs to emerge from the camp. It is important for the world to re-engage, but engagement is difficult when the authorities are allowed to control the mediums of communication.

Yet, another peaceful demonstration has been removed on the grounds of health and safety. Another peaceful demonstration has been intimidated and aggravated by police. Another peaceful demonstration has forced the debate about the hold of big business over government. The whole world may not be watching yet, but they are set to tune in.

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