On New Year's Eve, demonstrators briefly removed the police barricades surrounding Zuccotti Park, but since the cops re-assumed control of the space it's been completely closed to the public. The rambunctious demonstration on Saturday night wasn't really an attempt to retake the park, one organizer said on Monday. But if protesters wanted to show just how frustrated they were with the city controlling their movements and meetings, the police response to their weekend action has resulted in a lot more of that same control.
"I don’t think anybody really thought we were going to have our park back again, but I think it was just expressing our discontent at our civil liberties being taken away," said Jason Ahmadi, a 27-year-old organizer with the Press working group. During the chaotic Saturday night demonstration, protesters took down the barricades surrounding the park and threw them in a pile. Police arrested 68 people and had a swear-laden confrontation with actress Ellen Barkin, who happened to be passing by. Sometime around 1:30 or 2 a.m., after officers patrolling the city's New Year's Eve celebration at Times Square became free, the cops' numbers swelled and the protesters' ranks decreased to the point where police outnumbered protesters and were able to force them out of the park once more, Ahmadi said. The park remains closed, according to reports from the scene. Newyorkist shared this photo of the heavily policed, closed park via Twitter:
With the park closed, the protesters had to seek out another location for their general assembly on Sunday. As the group's General Assembly Twitter account reported on Sunday and Ahmadi corroborated on Monday, they got booted from a privately owned public space at 100 Williams St. and then a second alternate location at Maiden Lane before finally finding a space to hold their meeting. @DiceyTroop, an anonymous account that frequently tweets details of Occupy actions and meetings, tweeted on Sunday: "This is getting just beyond ridiculous. There's nowhere where 50 people can stand in public in New York City having an orderly convo?"
But as the occupiers decried what they said was a crackdown on their freedom to assemble, one set of barricades that has been up nearly as long as the occupation itself came down on Monday: Police finally took down the barricades that had surrounded the iconic bull on Wall Street itself. And as this other photo from Newyorkist shows, you could probably get about 50 people on that little traffic island:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.