Hundreds of police officers in riot gear raided Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, evicting dozens of Occupy Wall Street protesters from what has become the epicenter of the worldwide movement protesting corporate greed and economic inequality.
Hours later, the National Lawyers Guild obtained a court order allowing Occupy Wall Street protesters to return with tents to the park. The guild said the injunction prevents the city from enforcing park rules on Occupy Wall Street protesters.
At a morning news conference at City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city knew about the court order but had not seen it and would go to court to fight it. He said the city wants to protect people’s rights, but if a choice must be made, it will protect public safety.
About 70 people were arrested overnight, including some who chained themselves together, while officers cleared the park so that sanitation crews could clean it.
By 9 a.m., the park was power-washed clean. Police in riot gear still ringed the public space, waiting for orders to reopen it.
The city told protesters at the two-month-old encampment they could come back after the cleaning, but under new tougher rules, including no tents, sleeping bags or tarps, which would effectively put an end to the encampment if enforced.