The Raid On Occupy Wall Street: How It Happened And What Comes Next (VIDEO)
In the hours after the eviction, protesters circled the blocks surrounding the park, blocked in and corralled by the police at every intersection. A 25-year-old web developer named Leia Doran said the police pushed a crowd of protesters down Broadway shortly after evicting them, prodding them with their nightsticks. She said she was standing in the front line of protesters, urging the police to be careful, when an officer reached out and slapped her with an open hand.
"Maybe I've been privileged," she said, "but nothing like that has every happened to me."
Many grabbed what they could and headed over to Foley Square, one of several places outside of Zuccotti that the OWS movement has claimed as a rallying point and gathering place. There they held a General Assembly session -- an "emergency GA," they called it -- and tried to piece together a clear picture of what was happening. A smaller group eventually broke off and marched to a dusty vacant lot on Canal Street and Sixth Avenue.
By 9 a.m., several hundred protesters had gathered at the Canal Street lot. Soon, the protesters heard that a judge in the New York State Supreme Court named Lucy Billings had issued a temporary restraining order against the city. Billing's order should have governed affairs at the park until the afternoon hearing in Stallman's court began around noon, the protesters' lawyers said. But police refused to allow protesters into the park throughout the day.
"This morning, the mayor and this police force knowingly violated a court order when they continued to bar access to the park," said Yetta Kurland, a member of the National Lawyers Guild who helped secure the early morning emergency court order and represented the protesters in court Tuesday afternoon. "We do not live in a police state. The mayor is also subject to the rule of law."
After congregating at the lot on Canal St., a group of protesters peeled off and marched back to Zuccotti, shouting that they intended to take back the park. Several in the crowd held copies of the court injunction.
As the group marched down West Broadway, Murray Street and finally Church Street, the mood got increasingly tense. A protester wearing a brown leather jacket stepped off the curb to avoid walking into a pile of trash bags, and a police officer shoved him with the side of his nightstick and ordered him to get back on the sidewalk. The protester yelled in his face: "You work for me!"
At Zuccotti Park, the group found the park blocked off by metal barricades.
"You're in contempt of court!" many shouted at the police. About a hundred protesters marched between two barricades on either side of the sidewalk in an attempt to get to Broadway, only to find that the end of the street had been blocked off too, forming a pen. "It's a trap! It's a trap!" protesters yelled. The police eventually removed that barricade.
Ethan Buckner, 21, was with the group who marched from Sixth and Canal to Zuccotti around 10:00 a.m. When he attempted to show a copy of the ruling to a Brookfield security officer once he arrived at Zuccotti, he was rebuffed.
Bruckner and a friend then attempted to jump the barricade. He was immediately tossed to the ground, he said, as six cops and security guards grabbed him and forcefully flung him back over the barricade. A few hours later he was wearing a bandage on his arm. He also said he’d injured his knee.
Meanwhile, as many as 200 protesters were winding their way through the gears of the city's court system. After the police had initially ordered everyone to leave, perhaps 150 protesters disobeyed their orders and were arrested. Several who stayed but managed to evade arrest later said they saw the police fire pepper spray into the faces of immobilized members of the kitchen working group, who had fastened themselves to the kitchen structure with U-shaped bicycle locks around their necks.
Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, protesters and media continued to arrive at Zuccotti, where they stood on the sidewalks surrounding the park and waited for news from the courthouse.
Some protesters made a show of reading the injunction to the cops and the private security guards stationed around the park. One young man jumped over the barricade waving an American flag, and was promptly arrested. A member of the cigarette-rolling group sat on the sidewalk, offering doses of nicotine and words of encouragement. "Hand-rolled has that love, you know?" he said.
Claims of abuse at the hand of the police flew through the crowd on Tuesday afternoon, and there were plenty of media types on hands to listen. A clutch of people with cameras and notepads surrounded a petite woman named Hilary Bettis, who said that police had rammed her with the side of a nightstick 15 or 16 times. "They told me I had no rights," she said. "I've never felt less like a human being in my life." She also claimed that the police had grabbed a girl who was standing next to her, pulled her out of the crowd, and pressed her face against the pavement.
Not everyone outside the park on Tuesday afternoon supported the protest. A man in a beige suit named Alan Feuer, who said he worked on Wall Street as a broker, offered words of sympathy to one of the cops standing by the barricades. He didn't like the protesters either, he said. "They don't understand economics. They're stupid."
At his Tuesday morning press conference, Mayor Bloomberg insisted that the pre-dawn raid was temporary and designed to "reduce the risk of confrontation and to minimize destruction in the surrounding neighborhood."
But, after the 5 p.m. ruling affirming Brookfield's right to enforce no-camping rules in the park, Dan Alterman, a lawyer representing the protesters, questioned the legality of much of the city's actions over the last 18 hours.
"If Mayor Bloomberg was so sure this met constitutional muster, then why did he do it in the dead of night with a phalanx of police officers?" he said to a crowd of reporters gathered on the New York Supreme Court Steps.
As of now it remains unclear whether protesters will be able to move back into the park, or if they can't, how the change will affect the broader movement. Earlier this afternoon, Bill Dobbs, who works in Occupy Wall Street's public relations group, reflected on the importance of the 33,000 square foot space in downtown Manhattan.
"It's a sliver of land," he said. "It's smaller than a suburban house plot. Its power comes from the people within it."
Video produced by Adam Kaufman