After two months of holding New York City's Zuccotti Park despite repeated threats of eviction, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) activists were forcibly removed from the site by hundreds of police in riot gear early Tuesday morning.
OWS media teams managed to send out alerts via text and email, but by 1:00 a.m. police moved into the park, which had been occupied by protestors since Sep. 17, to clear it out for a "cleaning".
Police say protestors will be allowed to return, but without any of their equipment, sleeping bags or tents. The move was widely seen by organizers as a permanent eviction.
Reinforcements of protestors arrived by the hundreds to defend the park, but by the time they arrived police had barricaded all of the streets leading to Zuccotti Park, and shut down subways stops nearby. Unable to get in, large groups of protestors massed on street corners, and sometimes in streets, both north and south of the park.
Media crews were not allowed into the park during the raid, and the NYPD prevented news helicopters from entering the airspace over downtown New York. Reports of arrests and violence vary, but both in and around the park police appeared to favor force over arrests.
Pepper spray was widely used on protestors in the park as well as those demonstrating in solidarity on surrounding streets.
"We were on the sidewalk, on public space, standing in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the park when we were pepper sprayed," said John Cronan, a member of the Restaurant Opportunity Center and an OWS protestor.
"We were running half blind down the street, holding each other's hands, until someone got us to a convenience store where we were able to wash it out," he said, adding, "It really shows you who's side the police are on – the side of the one percent."
Inside the park police manage to move many protestors out without force, while around 100 ...