November 15, 2011

OWS New York Evicted; NYPD in Contempt of Court

At 1AM last night, police cleared Zuccotti Park, allegedly violently – again, after clearing out the media ("for their own safety"). Reports are that the occupiers' computers and other hardware, as well as their tents, were dumped into garbage trucks and hauled off.

At 7-something this morning, a NY court issued an injunction ordering that the protesters must be allowed back into the park pending a fuller hearing at 11:30AM today. Mayor Bloomberg was reportedly informed, and the protesters have one or more copies of the court order, which they showed to the NYPD.

The protesters then returned to Zuccotti, to find it still barricaded.

All times stated in this post are Eastern time.

UPDATE: Per CNN and HuffPo as of 3:33PM: the NY S. Ct. has ruled in favor of OWS.

Further update: That report proved false, at least in part. The ruling was that the protesters should be re-admitted to the park but would no longer be allowed to camp there in violation of rules imposed after the occupation began.

It would be interesting to know the source of the earlier report. {It turns out the confusion arose when CNN belatedly reported the issuance of the TRO some 6 hrs. after it issued and 1.5 hrs. after the subsequent hearing was to have begun, and OWS-er's assumed that this was the decision based on the hearing.}

To fill in a few more details: After the eviction, a temporary restraining order was issued by Judge Lucy Billings holding that OWS must be allowed back into Zuccotti pending the results of a hearing to be held later in the day. This order was issued at 6:30AM and, one source says, was served on Mayor Bloomberg by 7:50AM. The protesters returned to the park to re-occupy the park, but police had blockaded it off and refused to let them in notwithstanding the court order. For reasons as yet unclear, prior to the scheduled hearing, the case was transferred to Judge Michael Stallman. That judge held in favor of the City at approximately 4:30PM.

So for nearly nine hours, Mayor Bloomberg and the police – all of whom had no doubt sworn to uphold the Constitution and laws – were in contempt of court.

Further FURTHER update: The Guardian reports that not only did NYC authorities clear the media from the park grounds before commencing the eviction . . .

. . . the city closed airspace in lower Manhattan to prevent news helicopters taking aerial shots of the scene. Vans were used to obscure views of the park and a police cordon effectively blocked accredited media from reaching the site. Some of those members of the press who were in the park or were able to get there say they were arrested, pepper sprayed or treated aggressively.

One of the few reporters on the scene when the police moved in was Josh Harkinson, a writer for Mother Jones magazine. As police used tear gas to remove the last protesters from the park Harkinson identified himself as a member of the media and was physically dragged out of the park. He was told that reporters had to stay in a "press pen".

Reporters tweeted their frustration using the hashtag #mediablackout and said police were ignoring and even confiscating press passes.

A New York Post reporter was "roughed up" according to the New York Times' Brian Stelter. Lindsey Christ, of local cable-news channel NY1, said on-air this morning that "the police took over, they kept everybody out and they wouldn't let media in. It was very planned."

(Emphasis supplied.)

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