New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg claims he simply wanted to clean Zuccotti Park before allowing Occupy Wall Street activists to return.
The truth is, his police department embarked on a blistering blitzkrieg under the cover of darkness early Tuesday morning, smashing heads and busting faces while arresting more than 70 people, including at least two reporters.
They also ripped the credentials off countless other journalists while preventing a CBS helicopter from covering the roundup from above.
While the NYPD did all it could to prevent the raid from being documented, hundreds of activists described the scene via Twitter, including one who tweeted the above video, which shows cops swinging batons as they make mass arrests.
Here is a collection of tweets describing the attempted media blackout, including this one from New York Times reporter Brian Stelter.
I’m w/ a NY Post reporter who says he was roughed up by riot police as Zuccotti was cleared. He thinks violence was “completely deliberate.”
And this one from NY1Education Reporter Lindsey Christ:
Reporters/photogs being thrown to ground and pushed to wall if they get in front of the wrong officer. Other officers calm and polite.
Both have tweeted that they’ve been released. Malsin said he was charged with disorderly conduct.
Malsin also said that an AFP photojournalist was arrested.
The New York City Department of Transportation, which usually has an online camera turned on in that area, had it turned off.
New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez was also arrested and was seen being led away with a bloodied head.
Bloomberg issued a statement this morning saying he authorized the raid in the name of public safety.
Occupy Wall Street activists vowed they will continue resisting. Moments ago, they sent out the following press release:
New York, NY — We are a global movement that is reclaiming our humanity and our future. We have stepped into a revitalizing civic process, realizing that we cannot fix our crises isolated from one another. We need collective action, and we need civic space. We are creating that civic space.
To occupy is to embody the spirit of liberation that we wish to manifest in our society. It is to exercise our freedom to assemble. We are creating space for community, values, ideas, and a level of meaningful dialogue that is absent in the present discourse.
Liberated space is breaking free of isolation, breaking down the walls that literally and figuratively separate us from one another. It is a new focus on community, trust, love and hope. We occupy to create a vision of equality, liberty and social justice onto the blank paving stones of public parks, in the silent hallways of abandoned schools, banks, and beyond.
Public space plays a crucial role in this civic process and encourages open, transparent organizing in our movement. As we have seen in Liberty Square, outdoor space invites people to listen, speak, share, learn, and act.
Last night, billionaire Michael Bloomberg sent a massive police force to evict members of the public from Liberty Square—home of Occupy Wall Street for the past two months. People who were part of a dynamic civic process were beaten and pepper-sprayed, their personal property destroyed.
Supporters of this rapidly growing movement were mobilized in the middle of the night, making phone calls, taking the streets en masse, and planning next steps. Americans and people around the world are appalled at Bloomberg’s treatment of people who peacefully assemble.
We are appalled, but not deterred. Liberty Square was dispersed, but its spirit not defeated. Today we are stronger than we were yesterday. Tomorrow we will be stronger still. We are breaking free of the fear that constricts and confines us. We occupy to liberate.
We move forward in the grand tradition of the transformative social movements that have defined American history. We stand on the shoulders of those who have struggled before us, and we pick up where others have left off. We are creating a better society for us all.
Occupy Wall Street has renewed a sense of hope. It has revived a belief in community and awakened a revolutionary spirit too long silenced.
Join us as we liberate space and build a movement. 9 a.m. Tuesday morning at Sixth Avenue and Canal we continue.
In the past, whether it is New York City or Oakland or the countless other cities in between with Occupy encampments, militarized police crackdowns like this tend to bolster support for the movement.
That, of course, depends on what pops up on Youtube in the next 24 hours.
UPDATE: A court order apparently authorizes the activists back into Zuccotti Park.
The National Lawyers Guild says it has obtained a court order that allows Occupy Wall St. protesters to return with tents to a New York City park.
The guild says the injunction prevents the city from enforcing park rules on Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city knew about the court order but has not seen it. He says the city plans to go court immediately.
Zuccotti Park was cleared overnight so that crews could clean it. Bloomberg says that was done “to reduce the risk of confrontation.”