Published October 14, 2011
DEVELOPING: Police have made roughly six arrests near the Occupy Wall Street protest in lower Manhattan after a few hundred people marched around the New York Stock Exchange.
Barricades and mounted police were posted around the exchange and about a half-dozen arrested were seen in the surrounding blocks of Zuccotti Park, where a planned cleaning on Friday had been postponed by the city's deputy mayor.
In one incident, a police scooter accidently struck a protester, causing him to fall to the ground screaming before kicking the vehicle over to free his foot. He was then arrested.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Brookfield Properties could still go ahead with an official cleanup if no deal is reached with protesters. Bloomberg said the city was notified shortly before midnight that Brookfield wanted to postpone the cleanup of Zuccotti Park. He said the property owner hopes to work out an agreement with the protesters.
"If they want to take a couple of days ... then they can do that," Bloomberg said during his weekly WOR Radio show.
Bloomberg, whose staff was under strict orders not to pressure Brookfield one way or the other, said the company has received "lots of calls" from elected officials siding with protesters.
Meanwhile, in Denver, dozens of police officers in riot gear advanced early Friday on the last remaining cluster of Wall Street protesters at the state's Capitol. Some protesters retreated without resisting while other had been arrested.
Some protesters chanted "Peaceful!" while others shouted "Shameful!" as they backed away from their encampment.
No immediate signs of violence were reported and the exact numbers of arrests were unclear. Officers placed plastic ties around some protesters' wrists and one woman was carried away from the makeshift encampment.
Authorities began taking down dozens of tents at around 3:30 a.m. Three hours later, officers advanced on a line of protesters who had locked arms around the remaining tents. Officers held their batons horizontally and nudged the protesters to break up the human chain.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Read an earlier version of this story below:
The deputy mayor of New York City says a planned cleaning of the Occupy Wall Street protest encampment in lower Manhattan has been postponed.
"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. Our position has been consistent throughout: the City’s role is to protect public health and safety, to enforce the law, and guarantee the rights of all New Yorkers. Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown, and we will continue to monitor the situation,” Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement.
The demonstrators said the planned cleanup at 7 a.m. was merely a pretext to evict them from where they've been camped for a month in protest over wealth distribution. The movement has inspired similar demonstrations around the world.
Supporters streamed into the plaza early Friday before the announcement about the postponement. There was a strong police presence, and a showdown between protesters and authorities had been feared.
Overnight, Wall Street protesters scrubbed, mopped and picked up garbage at the corporate-owned park they have been occupying in an attempt to stave off the scheduled cleanup.
After moving out mattresses and camping supplies, organizers were mixed on how they would respond when police arrive at the request of Zuccotti Park owners to help remove the occupiers from the public plaza so it can be cleaned.
Some protesters said they would resist; others planned to cooperate but engage in nonviolent civil disobedience if they were not allowed back in the park.
Publicly-traded real estate firm Brookfield Office Properties planned to begin a section-by-section power-washing at 7 a.m. EDT. The company called the conditions at the park unsanitary and unsafe.
Han Shan, 39, of New York, a spokesman for Occupy Wall Street, said it was clear to everyone that the plan is to shut down the protest.
"There is a strong commitment to nonviolence, but I know people are going to vigorously resist eviction," he said. "I think we're going to see a huge number of supporters throughout New York and the surrounding area defend this thing ... I'm hoping that cooler heads will prevail, but I'm not holding my breath."
In early Friday darkness, protesters were still busy cleaning while a light rain fell. The group's sanitation team had hired a private garbage truck to pick up discarded curbside garbage.
The protesters, who have camped out in a city park for more than three weeks, will be forced out Friday so that city crews can help clean the area.
“After it’s cleaned, they’ll be able to come back. But they won’t be able to bring back the gear, the sleeping bags, that sort of thing will not be able to be brought back into the park," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters.
Brookfield Properties, the owner of the park, gave the protesters notice on Thursday that it will begin enforcing park regulations, which prohibit everything from lying down on benches to leaving personal property on the ground.
Park regulations on the notice includes no tents, tarps or sleeping bags on the ground, no lying on benches and no personal property stored on the ground. All these practices have been common at the park, where protesters have lived, slept and eaten for nearly a month
"They're going to use the cleanup to get us out of here!" said Justin Wedes, 25, a part-time public high school science teacher from Brooklyn. "It's a de facto eviction notice."
The impending cleanup is described as an "emergency situation" on the movement's official website, where a message posted calls for protesters to gather for a "mass turn-out" early Friday morning.
"For those of you who plan to help us hold our ground—which we hope will be all of you—make sure you understand the possible consequences," the message read. "Be prepared to not get much sleep. Be prepared for possible arrest. Make sure your items are together and ready to go (or already out of the park.)"
"If Bloomberg truly cares about sanitation here he should support the installation of portopans and dumpsters. #OWS allies have been working to secure these things to support our efforts," it continued.
It's not clear whether the regulations are new or how they would be enforced.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan on Wednesday evening and made the cleaning announcement, citing sanitation concerns from the park’s owner, MyFoxNY.com reports.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement Wednesday that,“The Mayor is a strong believer in the First Amendment and believes that the protesters have a right to continue to protest. At the same time, the last three weeks have created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park. This situation is not in the best interests of the protesters, residents or the City."
Brookfield did not respond to requests for comment Thursday, but two uniformed police officers at the park confirmed that they escorted representatives of the company as the notices were passed out to demonstrators.
Some protesters questioned the need to clean the park in the first place.
"This is the cleanest protest I've ever witnessed," said Emilio Montilla, 29, a laid-off teacher's assistant. "We take care of ourselves. We're self-sufficient."
But Brookfield told police that it had received “hundreds of phone calls and emails” from locals complaining about "lewdness, groping, drinking and drug use, the lack of safe access to and usage of the Park, ongoing noise at all hours, unsanitary conditions and offensive odors,” NBC New York reports.
Brookfield also raised concerns about shipments of “materials” to the park, which they say are unscreened.
The park will be cleaned in stages, beginning Friday morning at 7 a.m. ET, and lasting approximately 12 hours.
Brookfield normally cleans and inspects the condition of the park every night, including a power washing, landscaping and trash removal. But the company hasn't been able to do so since the protestors have sent up a tent city there as part of their demonstrations.
"Basic rules intended to keep the park safe, open, clean, and welcoming to all visitors are clearly posted," a statement from Brookfield read. "Unfortunately, many of the individuals currently occupying the grounds are ignoring these basic yet necessary requirements, which interferes with the use of the park by others."
Brookfield says that they recognize people's right to peacefully assemble but that they are also obligated to ensure that the park remains safe, clean and accessible to everyone.
"We continue to work with the City of New York to address these conditions and restore the park to its intended purpose," the statement continued.
In addition to sanitation concerns at the park, the NYPD has spent over $2 million in overtime to keep cops stationed at the protests, according to a public statement by Commissioner Ray Kelly made last week.
On Wednesday, Four people were arrested in front of the offices of JP Morgan Chase, where protestors called in vain for a meeting with Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon. Protesters accuse the police of rough handling.
Meanwhile, nearly 700 members of the Service Employees International Union, which represents 23,000 office cleaners, marched through the Financial District as they are gearing up for contract negotiations with the Realty Advisory Board.
The Occupy Wall Street protests have spread to other cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and Los Angeles, and have become a political issue, with Republicans accusing the demonstrators of waging "class war" and President Barack Obama saying he understands their frustrations.
The movement has also drawn comment from other world leaders, including Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who claimed that the U.S. is amidst a full-blown crisis because its, "corrupt foundation has been exposed to the American people."
His remarks came a day after U.S. officials said the President's administration plans to leverage charges that Iran plotted to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador into a new global campaign to isolate the Islamic republic.
In Washington, six people were arrested Tuesday for demonstrating inside a Senate office building. More than 125 protesters in Boston were arrested overnight after they ignored warnings to move from a downtown green space, police said. A conservation group had recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs, and officials said they were worried about damage.
More protests are planned in Toronto and Vancouver this weekend, and European activists are also organizing.
FoxNews.com’s Perry Chiaramonte and the Associated Press contributed to this report.