On this chilly Friday morning, New York City police and firefighters calmly walked into the Occupy Wall Street encampment and cleared out their electric generators and the fuel that runs them. New York has shied away from forceful crackdowns on the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti park ever since a planned Oct. 14 cleaning threatened to turn chaotic, and this early morning sweep didn't turn violent. But with a wet cold weather forecast for this weekend, protesters grumbled loudly during this 40-degree morning. The city has said it was worried about the encampment turning into a fire trap with gasoline generators. Protesters say they're using old cooking oil for biodiesel fuel, not gasoline, to power electronics, lights, and heaters. In a video feed of the crackdown on Friday, police and firefighters said all fuel and generators had to go.
New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg defended the move in his official Twitter stream: "The gasoline & generators in Zuccotti Park posed a real threat of fire or explosion, particularly given the congested conditions," NYCMayorsOffice tweeted. Then later, "It’s illegal to store/use generators & fuel if it threatens public safety, so FDNY informed protestors that those items must be removed." Protesters filmed in the encampment's live feed pointed out that police and firefighters on the ground had also switched their terminology from "gasoline" to fuel. Some video from the stream:
Oddly, as the city changed its tactic to put pressure on demonstrators' power supply, it backed off another winter-preparation tactic it had previously banned: Tents. "Tents can stay, so long as [park owner] Brookfield [Office Properties] doesn't complain, says @mikebloomberg," tweeted Capital New York reporter Azi Paybarah. The city had used a ban on tents in all its parks as a way to keep the protesters from becoming too entrenched, but they've been popping up anyway of late, and police now say they're waiting for Brookfield to say something before they remove them.
Bloomberg has been hard to pin down on exactly what he wants to do about the protesters. He previously said they could stay indefinitely, but recently suggested a crackdown may be imminent. "I think part of it has probably to do with the weather," he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.