Occupy Wall Street's camp out in Zuccotti Park could come to a messy end Friday morning. The city has given protesters a 7 a.m. deadline to clear the park for a "cleaning" that would effectively end the occupation. But occupiers promise to resist.
Last night, Mayor Bloomberg finally visited the Occupy Wall Street protest in lower Manhattan yesterday, nearly four weeks after it started on September 17th. But it wasn't to eat free pizza: He informed protesters that Brookfield Properties, the management company which controls Zuccotti, will be conducting a long-overdue cleaning Friday morning. A cleaning! No big deal, right? Things have supposedly been getting a little ripe down there.
Well, actually this "cleaning" is a de facto eviction, as it will ban any sleeping bags or "gear" from the park. The cleaning begins at 7 a.m. tomorrow. At that time, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly told the Post.
"People will have to remove all their belongings and leave the park… After it's cleaned, they'll be able to come back. But they won't be able to bring back the gear, the sleeping bags, that sort of thing will not be able to be brought back into the park."
Given that so much of the protest has centered on the burgeoning 24/7 microcommunity set up in the park, banning "gear" and sleeping bags means the end of Occupy Wall Street as we know it.
But Occupy Wall Streeters say they're "calling the city's bluff." They're frantically organizing their own clean-up in the hopes of obviating an official one. Organizers reportedly have $3,000 on hand to pay for cleaning workers and supplies; a teacher's union is donating space to store protester's possessions during the cleaning; email and phone campaigns have been launched.
And if that doesn't work: "Direct action being planned, with expectation of multiple arrests," according to Twitter user RudePundit. "Call on all supporters to be here at 6 am to organize to defend the occupation."
A statement just released by Occupy Wall Street reads, "We won't allow Bloomberg and the NYPD to foreclose our occupation. This is an occupation, not a permitted picnic."
[Image via Getty]