Bloomberg Warns New Occupy Wall Street Crackdown on the Way
Bloomberg said that while most of the protesters’ previous excursions to locations including Times Square and Washington Square Park have been done peacefully, demonstrators have frequently marched on sidewalks without the necessary police permits.
“We will start enforcing that more,” the mayor told WOR’s John Gambling on his weekly radio sit-down, where the protests, which have stretched on for more than a month and spread across the globe, were once again the main topic conversation.
According to the NYPD's website, permits are required for "a procession, parade or race" within the city.
The protesters' previous marches have resulted in hundreds of arrests, including, most recently, in Times Square, where police clad in riot gear clashed with massive crowds.
The mayor’s comments came in response to a caller named Lewis, who said Bloomberg should be held personally responsible for the continued disruptions to local businesses and residents from the protesters.
“Lewis, I couldn’t agree with you more. You’re 100 percent right,” the mayor responded, acknowledging a litany of complaints from the community around Zuccotti Park, where the protesters have been camped out since Sept. 17.
"There are businesses and people who are going to work and going to school; there’s drumming in the middle of the night. There’s people just using the streets as a bathroom,” he said.
“A lot of people say their kids can’t sleep at night so we’ll have to eventually work something out here.”
But the mayor said the groups’ non-hierarchical structure makes brokering a deal difficult.
“There’s nobody to work it out with. There just is not any one group, one ideology, one objective, one person to negotiate with,” he said. “It makes it hard to do that.”
While the local community board and elected officials, including City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, have been pushing to broker agreements with the protesters to help address community complaints about Zuccotti Park, locals have complained the efforts have resulted in little change.
But the mayor also appeared to be taking more responsibility for the situation — which he has repeatedly insisted is in the hands of Zuccotti Park's owner, Brookfield Properties.
“It is the city’s problem and we’ll make a decision," he said. "But it’s just not so easy. You can’t just walk in and say, ‘Hey, you’re out of here.’ And then there’s the problem of, if they’re out of there, where do they go?”
Brookfield owns the park but, under an agreement with the city, operates it as a public plaza that is legally required to be open 24-hours a day — a situation that has created a host of murky legal issues in terms of regulations and enforcement.
“Technically, Brookfield hasn’t asked [the protesters] to leave so they’re not trespassing so the police can’t do anything about it,” the mayor explained.
While he said he believes the courts would support the company's bid to impose “reasonable restrictions” on the space, such as barring tarps and sleeping on the ground, he said that enforcing those rules is problematic.
Brookfield had announced it would move in to clean the park last Friday, but dropped the plans at the last minute after thousands vowed to resist the move.
“The question is, when do you do it? And how do you do it? And what do you do if a lot of people don’t like it?” he asked.
Still, Bloomberg said that historically protesters tend to lose interest or move on.
“We’ll get through this,” he said.