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Zuccotti Park's Rules: No Tents, No Tarps and No Lying Down

By DNAinfo Staff on November 15, 2011 9:24pm

Police set up barricades where they checked bags of protesters streaming back into Zuccotti Park Tuesday night to ensure no sleeping bags, tents and other items passed through.
Police set up barricades where they checked bags of protesters streaming back into Zuccotti Park Tuesday night to ensure no sleeping bags, tents and other items passed through.
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DNAinfo/Carla Zanoni

By Andrea Swalec, Carla Zanoni and Amy Zimmer

DOWNTOWN — The city may have won its right to enforce the rules at Zuccotti Park, but as hundreds of protesters hunkered down for the night, many were confused — and some were openly defiant. 

A judge's decision Tuesday evening allowed the park to be reopened to Occupy Wall Street protesters, as long as they respected its rules, including many prohibitions on sleeping.

That meant no camping, no tents or other structures; no lying down on the ground or benches; no tarps or sleeping bags; and no storage or personal property on the ground, benches or walkways, according to a notice posted at Zuccotti Park by the privately-owned public space's owner, Brookfield Properties.

"It's as simple as that," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said on NY1 Tuesday night. "If they refuse to obey those regulations they could ultimately be arrested."

Brookfield would be manning four entry points with the NYPD's assistance, Kelly said.

But on Tuesday, police were also not allowing backpacks. They were checking for tents and sleeping bags, which were clearly prohibited by the rules, but also for bottled water and musical instruments. One man who apparently had medical supplies was turned away because police said he couldn't bring in the bag. An accordion player, a guitarist and drummers were also turned away, the New York Civil Liberties Union tweeted.

The rules of Zuccotti Park, however, don't prevent any instruments being brought in.

Steven Jasper, a 24-year-old artist who has been sleeping at Zuccotti Park for more than two weeks said he was turned away for having a large backpack, which did contain a sleeping bag, a mat and toiletries.

"I'm probably not going to stay in the park tonight because they're making it impossible to stay here," said Jasper, who said his banjo, clothes and medication went missing after the early morning raid.

Rumors also spread through the park about nonexistent rules, such as a 10 p.m. closing time.

A spokesman from Brookfield Properties said that the rules remained unchanged.

"No changes to the rules of the park," a Brookfield spokesman said. "It continues to be open 24- hours-a-day for use in accordance with the rules."

A speaker with the Occupy Wall Street movement, amplified by people echoing his comments, warned the newly-returned group that police buses had arrived and additional barricades were being erected around the perimeter of the park.

But just a few hours after being back, some rule-breaking could already be spotted: two men lay splayed out on a concrete bench and fell fast asleep.

Others planned to defy the rules, too.

"I'm going to lay down anyway if they come here and arrest me for laying down on the ground, it will only make [the police] look bad," said Jack Amico, 23, an artist from Staten Island. "I'm staying because it's awesome that we're still here after all the madness."

The threat of arrest didn't bother him, he said.

K.L. Ginger, 27, a barista from Brooklyn, had been a regular protester with Occupy Wall Street, but had never spent a night at Zuccotti Park before.

"I'm thinking of staying here tonight because it's really important to take back the space since it was taken really aggressively," she said as she lay directly on the ground without a sleeping bag or mat.

NYPD officers were seen at one point in the evening trying to stop people sitting on a wall on Liberty Street, but the quickly backed off when people started chanting, "The whole world is watching."

With additional reporting by Ben Fractenberg.