Following a huge and rapid public outcry that included hundreds of thousands of online petition signatures and phone calls to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office,a threatened clean-up/eviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters was postponed early this morning.
Yesterday afternoon, Bloomberg said the city would use force if necessary to evict the protesters who have been camped in the privately owned Zuccotti Park for nearly a month. He claimed the action was needed to “clean up” the park and that the protesters would be allowed to return, but under strict rules that in effect would shut down the 24/7 protest against Wall Street greed.
As soon as the threat was made public, MoveOn.org, the AFL-CIO and other progressive groups launched a huge online and e-mail campaign to fight back against the eviction. In just a matter of hours, more than 20,000 people signed an AFL-CIO petition calling on Bloomberg to respect the protesters’ First Amendment rights. (Many thanks to everyone who took part!)
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka denounced the threatened closing of the park, saying,
It is clear that what is being threatened in Zuccotti Park is nothing but silencing the voices and stomping out the rights of Americans. The AFL-CIO stands with Occupy Wall Street and the 99 percent of Americans just trying to level the massively unequal playing field.
Representatives from the real estate company that owns the park and Occupy Wall Street met late last night and early this morning and reached an agreement to develop a clean-up plan on their own that would not include forcible eviction. Occupy Wall Streeter Tyler Combelic told CNN:
We’re extremely excited. This is an example of what people power can do.
The protesters have been cleaning the park since they began their action and have formed on Occupy Wall Street Sanitation Operation. Says New York City Councilmen Charles Barron:
You want to clean up something? Clean up these crooks on Wall Street.
In other news from Occupy Wall Street, National Nurses United (NNU) will set up a first aid station in Zuccotti Park to provide basic medical assistance to the protestors. RN volunteers from NNU will staff the first aid station. The union says it will set up similar first aid stations in other cities where the protests are growing.