A number of elected officials gathered at the edge of Zuccotti Park for an extraordinary press conference this evening in which they urged Mayor Mike Bloomberg to reconsider his plan to remove protesters from sections of the park in order for it to be cleaned.
The press conference, in front of the Brown Brothers Harriman building in the Financial District, was remarkable for several reasons. It was called hastily by the Working Families Party, rather than by the organizers of the protest or by any elected officials, yet still attracted over a dozen local lawmakers. The police initially tried to stop the press conference from starting, saying that it was on private land, leading to a slight verbal altercation with Bill Lipton, a political director of the Working Families Party, in which the white-shirted police officer demanded Mr. Lipton’s driver license. The police officer’s name could not be determined but he stood in front of the makeshift podium for several minutes as the press conference started, obscuring the speakers. And finally, there was no shortage of fiery rhetoric aimed at Mayor Bloomberg.
“Mr. Mayor, I know that you are not used to respecting the Constitution, but I urge you, I urge to respect the Constitution, otherwise lawyers are ready,” said Brooklyn Councilwoman Tish James.
“We are saying to the mayor, you want to clean up something, clean up these crooks on Wall Street. You want to clean up something, clean up the Tombs. The Tombs are down here. People are in jail and they are living in filth,” said fellow Brooklyn lawmaker Charles Barron. “You want to clean up something? Clean up City Hall…This is beginning of a movement, and y’all may not want to hear this, but this is how revolution starts.”
“I’m asking the mayor to at least pretend he cares about the 99 percent. To at least pretend he cares about those in poverty. To at least pretend to care about those who are not as rich as he is. Because he will jump at the opportunity to talk to the 1% but refuse the opportunity to the 99 percent. And all he wants to do is to lie to them…hopefully you will be remembered for something other than for dismantling democracy in New York City.”
The lawmakers said that they planned on being at the park at 6 a.m when sanitation crews are expected to arrive to clean the park, and police officers order those who remain to move to another section of the park. They called on New Yorkers to join them.
In a statement, Marc Lavorgna, a spokesman for the mayor said that the owners of the privately-held park, Brookfield Properties, asked that the city help them to maintain sanitation in the park.
“The protestors will be able to continue to exercise their First Amendment rights in Zuccotti Park, or anywhere else in New York City,” he said. “Brookfield requested the City’s assistance so they can meet their obligation to maintain this public park for all New Yorkers. Protesters can remain in the park during Brookfield’s section-by-section clean-up and they will be able to return to the cleaned sections once work is completed tomorrow and can stay in the park 24/7 so long as they follow park rules. We will continue to defend and guarantee their free speech rights, but those rights do not include the ability to infringe on the rights of others, which is why the rules governing the park will be enforced.”
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