Sometime around 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, New York City police officers moved in on Zuccotti Park, ejecting Occupy Wall Street protesters and clearing the camp of their tents and belongings. The surprise move set off a wild night of confrontations, rumors, and arrests in downtown Manhattan.
The action started around 1:00 a.m. when officers showed up and started handing out fliers saying that everyone had to leave the park and take their belongings with them, and that those who didn't leave would be subject to arrest. The Mayor's Office claimed (via Twitter) that the eviction is only temporary and that protesters can return when the park is cleaned. However, the indication was that tents and sleeping bags will no longer be allowed, which would essentially end the "occupation" part of the movement. Occupiers immediately began sending out calls via Twitter and Facebook for supporters come down and rally to their support.
A great deal of rumor and unconfirmed stories have been flowing out via Twitter and the various live video streams; a matter that's been complicated by the fact that the NYPD essentially walled off the entire area and had denied access to almost all media members who have attempted to cover tonight's raid. Here a roundup of some of what's being reported. Again, not all of this is confirmed, but we'll continue to update as reports come in through out the night:
- After the announcement by the NYPD, some protesters chained themselves in the makeshift "kitchen area" of Zuccotti Park.
- The move by the city may have been spurred by (possibly erroneous) reports that the protesters were planning to shut down subway stops and the New York Stock Exchange later this week.
- Entire subway stations have been shutdown near the vicinity, restricting access and preventing people from coming downtown.
- At one point we saw (on a Ustream) a stand-off between cops and protesters after a dump truck filled with tents and other Occupiers' things tried to make it's way out of the area. People blocked off the road and the truck was forced to back up in retreat. (Photo of the truck, via @JoshHarkinson)
- Unconfirmed: Police may have used a LRAD or "sound bomb" to disperse protesters.
- Unconfirmed: Police were "beating people" back on nearby streets, using pepper spray and making mass arrests, but other reports have been the dispersal, while noisy, has been mostly peaceful.
- One photo journalists says his camera lens was broken by a policeman's baton.
- According to Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkinson (perhaps the only reporter to actually get inside Zuccotti Park), cops have used tear gas to remove the last few occupiers holed up in the food tents. Harkinson was nearly arrested himself, even after identifying himself as a reporter.