The clean up of Zuccotti Park -- announced by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday -- by city workers has been scrapped as of early Friday a.m.
The announcement came shortly after 6 a.m. EST, less than an hour before city workers were scheduled to enter the park near Wall Street where thousands of demonstrators have been camped out for nearly a month.
"Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park - Brookfield Properties - that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation," Deputy Mayor Caswell F. Holloway said in a statement.
"Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use," Mr. Holloway said, "and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown."
News that the city had backed off its plans to clean the park seemed to allay fears that the "cleaning" -- which would have displaced protesters -- could have sparked hostile, perhaps even violent confrontations between Occupiers and NYPD. Still there were reports of arrests near the Zuccotti Park site.
According to the Times:
At about 7:40 a.m., a man was seen being led away in handcuffs on Broadway. Moments later, a woman who said she was his girlfriend identified him as Michael Rivas.
Shortly afterward, at Maiden and Water streets, police officers were seen taking four people into custody, placing them into a police wagon. One of those men appeared have a gash on his forehead and blood running down his face.
At one point, it appeared that as officers tried to keep the crowd on the sidewalk, a bag of garbage, was hurled from the crowd and hit one officer in plain clothes. That prompted that officer and another to wade into the crowd and apprehend a man.
The crowds marched in roadways, accompanied or pursued by officers on foot or riding scooters.
Near the corner of Beaver Street and Broad Street, officers wearing helmets leaped from scooters, tackled a man to the ground and placed him in handcuffs. At the intersection of William and Wall Streets, officers stood behind metal barricades as protesters filled the street in front of them. Some protesters waved mops and brooms that had been used earlier to clean Zuccotti Park.
Via Facebook, #OccupyWallStreet participants called for demonstrators to help clean up the park themselves:
On Wednesday/Thursday, all campers/supporters should reach out to friends/family/anyone to donate or purchase brooms, mops, squeegees, dust pans, garbage bags, power washers and any other cleaning supplies to be collected at sanitation. The sanitation committee should move full-speed ahead on purchase of bins allocated by consensus at GA.
Late Thursday, Russell Simmons, the godfather of hip-hop and an early supporter of the #OccupyWallStreet movement, reached out to Mayor Bloomberg via his @UncleRush Twitter account, and offered to pay for the park's cleaning and maintenance.
Simmons, who has visited with protesters in Zuccotti Park on more than a dozen occasions, tweeted:
Dear @MikeBloomberg -- I will pay for clean-up of Zuccotti Park to avoid confrontation. I don't wanna go to jail but I will be there ready!
Simmons was in Zucotti Park this morning when news of the clean-up cancellation came, and once again took to Twitter with the following posts:
At zuccotti park. Am glad that city is not evicting the protesters the morning. The movement continues #ows http://lockerz.com/s/146985423Thank God no confrontation no violence no jail. Clean-up cancelled. Thousands of peaceful people. #occupywallstreet