Sheldon Silver Says Wall St. Protesters Have Outstayed Welcome
As thousands of demonstrators gathered with union members and students in Foley Square Wednesday, Silver said that while he believes the protesters should continue to spread their message, their occupation is having a negative impact on lower Manhattan.
"I think they should put their message out in a lot of other communities and not burden this community exclusively with their message," he said Wednesday following a press conference at City Hall.
"I would suggest that they move their message to other parts of the city and the state."
Silver said the restoration of Zuccotti Park, where the protesters have been camped out, was one of the few community benefits that came out of 9/11 and said residents should be free to use that space again.
"This is the community that for many years suffered the consequences of 9/11. Many of the streets were blocked off. The one park that [protesters] are using is one of the few parks that's currently available to the community," he said.
“They’re now occupying it and obstructing it,” he said of the protesters, who have been camped out there since Sept. 17.
Mayor Bloomberg, speaking at City Hall on an unrelated matter, stood up for the demonstrators' right to protest, but also said that they can't get in the way of those who were just going about their lives.
“People have a right to protest. What they don’t have a right to do is to deny other people free access and the right to not protest,” Bloomberg said.
“If you want to march, you get a permit...But you’re just not break the law and you’re not going to be allowed to stop other people from moving around."
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began with several hundred supporters, has been growing in recent days, with widespread media coverage and similar protests in cities including Boston and Washington, D.C.
But downtown residents have complained to Community Board 1 that the protesters' late-night drums and hollering chants are keeping them up at night, and say the extra police barricades and overcrowded sidewalks are a growing inconvenience.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said that police do not have the authority to end the demonstrations, though hundreds have been arrested since the protests began.