The political fallout around the Occupy Wall Street eviction last night continues to rage as congressman Jerrod Nadler and state senator Daniel Squadron–both of whom represent the downtown area that includes Zuccotti Park–released a joint statement criticizing Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“The City’s actions to shut down OWS last night raise a number of serious civil liberties questions that must be answered,” Mr. Nadler and Mr. Squadron said in a statement. “Moving forward, how will the City respect the protesters’ rights to speech and assembly? Why was press access limited, and why were some reporters’ credentials confiscated? How will reported incidents of excessive force used by the police be addressed?”
Local electeds like Mr. Nadler, Mr. Squadron, and Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer have been in perhaps the tightest bind of any politician since the occupation of Zuccotti Park began. While, like many New York Democrats, they have expressed support for the protest and sympathy with its aims, their constituents’ annoyances over the litter, noise, and preponderance of homeless people at the park have forced them to strike a delicate balancing act between First Amendment and quality-of-life rights.
Mr. Nadler and Mr. Squadron were among the politicians who formulated a Good Neighbor Policy for the protesters, and recently wrote to Mr. Bloomberg to ask that the NYPD be stricter in enforcing laws around the park. Conversely, they were among the elected officials leading the fight against what Mr. Nadler called the NYPD’s “little riot” of brutality and the attempted eviction of OWS last month.
“We agree that Zuccotti Park must be open and accessible to everyone – OWS, the public, law enforcement and first responders – and that it is critical to protect the health and safety of protesters and the community,” they added. “We have also been urging the City to have a zero tolerance policy on noise and sanitation violations, and to make the results of its enforcement public. But we must balance the core First Amendment rights of protesters and the other legitimate issues that have been raised.”
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