by David Atkins
The NYPD cleared Zuccotti Park early this morning, using pepper spray, LRAD sonic devices, batons, and ultimately bulldozers. As I write this at 1:30AM pacific time, the situation is still fluid, with protesters gathering and marching in various places around the city as the police corral crowds wherever they appear.
Watching it unfold has had the same surreal feel as watching the early days of Tahrir Square. As big as the story of the clearing of the park is, one of the interesting side stories is also that all the major news networks, cable and otherwise, were silent. They were showing no live video from New York. Only Raw Story had a live stream, still ongoing as of this writing. And as with Egypt, by far the best way to learn about events happening on the ground was via Twitter.
Per various twitter reports:
- Protesters were told to take their belongings and leave. Any belongings not immediately carried out by protesters were then tossed unceremoniously into a massive pile on the street and loaded into dumpsters. This included the tents, the entire 5,000 book OWS library, and the bike generators.
- Most subways and trains into downtown were blocked, including with cops at entrances
- The Brooklyn Bridge was shut down until 6am
- All media and press were not allowed within a block of Zuccotti Park
- Airspace over Zuccotti was blocked by police helicopters and legally blocked to prevent any media coverage
- Journalists gathered together to attempt to gain access were denied. According to one report, one cop tore a press credential off a journalist, while another responded to a journalist's claim to be press by saying, "not tonight."
- One New York Times journalist reported arrested, and city councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez reportedly arrested and bleeding from the head
- Multiple individuals injured, bleeding, including one carried out on a stretcher
- Doormen locking buildings around Zuccotti to prevent residents from exiting to witness events
- Counter-terrorism police units on scene
Media blackout? Check. Transportation shutdown? Check. Needless police brutality? Check. Mayor Mubarak is evidently in control of New York City, and pulled off this entire operation in early morning cover of darkness.
Ultimately, just as in Egypt, these moves will turn out to be counterproductive. The Occupy movement had been struggling to maintain traction. This will give it significant new traction and momentum. Word is that there will be a major march on Thursday. If you live in the New York metro area, now would be the time to get involved and show solidarity with the movement to help these brave people rebuild and maintain their momentum.