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Occupy Wall Street: New York Police Department Evicts Protesters, Clears Zuccotti Park [LATEST UPDATES]

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In an unexpected move, the New York City Police Department descended on Zuccotti Park around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, proceeding to evict protesters, clear the park and arrest those that stood in their way.

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Police told demonstrators that the 2-month-old camp must be temporarily emptied for cleaning, citing "health and fire safety" hazards, and that protesters could either leave on their own volition or stay and be arrested and stripped of their belongings. By 4 a.m., the park was cleared and hundreds of protesters, uncertain of their next move and blocked by police barricades, wandered the financial district.

According to The Associated Press, 70 arrests had already been made.

While police say protesters will be allowed back in the park in the morning, their tents will not, according to an eviction notice handed to occupiers.

"You are required to immediately remove all property, including tents, sleeping bags and tarps from Zuccotti Park. That means you must remove the property now," the notice read. "You will be allowed to return to the park in several hours, when this work is complete. If you decide to return, you will not be permitted to bring your tents, sleeping bags, tarps and similar materials with you."

Although the park was cleared, some protesters did not appear ready to give in to the eviction notice's demands.

"This is a standoff," said James Rose, 39, an artist who had been occupying the park on and off for a month. Rose is a member of the Arts and Culture working group, and had been out for the evening at an Occupy Wall Street arts show offsite. He returned home to find himself locked out by the barricades.

He gestured at a line of roughly 30 cops, setting up a fresh row of metal fences along the side of Cortland Street, one block north of the park. "We're being herded like sheep now," Rose said. "But this is so not over."

Garrett Perkins, 29, standing with two stuffed camping backpacks, said he had been sleeping in Zuccotti when hundreds of cops surrounded the tents. Most protesters did not move, he said, even after the police first announced that the park must be cleared. Then the police began throwing out tents, cuffing occupiers and using pepper spray.

Perkins travelled to Occupy Wall Street from Alaska with a large collection of cold weather gear. When the choice came down to losing his gear or walking, he opted to hold onto his belongings.

"I thought it would be a blow to myself and the movement if I lost all this cold weather gear," Perkins said. "This is a long uphill battle and we're going to need it."

Protesters did not appear ready to give up the fight -- or the occupation of Zuccotti -- despite the setback.

"The movement started at Zuccotti, but it's bigger than Zuccotti," said Jerry Letto, a 24-year-old deliveryman from Brooklyn. Letto said demonstrators would "definitely" return to Zuccotti, although the time frame remained unclear at that time.

"I don't know about that," Billie Greenfield, a 24-year-old standing nearby said. Greenfield wasn't without hope, however. "This will only make us stronger," she said.

Through the night, protesters routinely sang "We Shall Overcome" and chanted "We are the 99 percent." Others beat drums and yelled: "New York, Cairo, Wisconsin, push us down we'll rise again!" They did so under the watchful eye of hundreds of police officers.

Shen Tong, a protester and former leader of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, tried to calm the growing tension between protesters and police. Addressing a crowd of about a hundred people two blocks from the park, he shouted, and his words were echoed by all those standing near.

"Brothers and sisters of the NYPD who used to think you're not part of this. Tonight, you're a part of this," he said. "You used to think you could just keep your head down and get along, or maybe get ahead, but tonight, we tell you, you are involved!"

Shen said the key to winning the night was to stay mobile. In light of the night's events, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reportedly planning to address the situation at an 8 a.m. press conference. Demonstrators had previously planned to stage "a block party the 1 percent will never forget" on Wall Street Thursday in commemoration of the Occupy Wall Street's two-month anniversary.

Molly O'Toole contributed reporting.

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Via HuffPost Miami:

When an Occupy Miami member offered evicted protestors vacant apartments in a building he owns in Downtown Miami's Overtown neighborhood, it seemed like the perfect solution: the 'Peace City' space would provide headquarters for the movement and shelter a small faction of the group's most vulnerable members. But it hasn't gone well. Other tenants say the building has become a cesspool of drug use and violence while non-resident Occupy Miami members are trying to distance themselves from the 'radicals' -- all while the two factions are wrestling for control over Occupy Miami's social media sites and future plans.

From the Miami New Times:

The feud between the Overtown occupiers and more mainstream members has only gotten worse. The two factions are now battling for control of Occupy Miami's social media sites. The movement's main Twitter account recently announced it had been "hijacked by a small, non-consensus group of radical members." The Occupy Miami Facebook page was also temporarily hacked by someone inside Peace City. Meanwhile, the Overtown occupation is slowly driving away more moderate members.

"This is a black eye on the Occupy movement," says Shannon Reaze, an Overtown community organizer and Occupy Miami supporter who is now helping tenants move out of Paz's building. "The violence and drugs going on here are way outside of what I thought Occupy stood for. This place is destabilized."

...The supposedly hard-core activists here spend their days drinking and getting high. And as Peace City devolves into lawlessness, the most committed occupiers are leaving. Local landowners and politicians want the place shut down, while cops are suspicious. Yet as long as Paz wants the protesters around, nothing short of a demolition order can keep them out.

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Via HuffPost DC:

WASHINGTON -- Occupy DC has a new lawsuit involving tents on its hands. But it doesn't involve temporary structures in McPherson Square.

Two protesters arrested during a February action outside Merrill Lynch's offices on 15th Street NW near McPherson Square have filed suit against the Metropolitan Police Department, Legal Times reports. (Read the complaint here.)

The plaintiffs, Samuel Dukore and Kelly Canavan, were part of a "targeted occupation" of Merrill Lynch on Feb. 13 where protesters were raising awareness about Merrill Lynch's reportedly close ties with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Issa, for his part, claims that the reports of these close ties are "wildly inaccurate."

Full story here.

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OWS reports via its website:

After the brutal attack on the attempted re-occupation of Liberty Square by NYPD on the 6-month anniversary of #OWS, a number of Occupiers have relocated their base of occupation to Union Square in midtown Manhattan, a point of convergence for several #OWS protests over the past 6 months.

According to reports on the ground, several dozen people slept in the park after the illegal and violent raid on Liberty Square. Over 70 people remain, now on Day 3. Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it ¨the new Occupation.¨ In addition to holding General Assemblies, Union Square Occupiers are providing vital jail support for those arrested on #M17 as they are released from NYPD custody. So far, the NYPD has made no attempt to remove Occupiers or prevent them from sleeping in the park.

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Occupy Long Beach is defending the mother's home. For more information, click here.

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The woman had the apparent seizure has been identified by the New York Observer as Cecily McMillan:

Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist once profiled in Rolling Stone, suffered a seizure Saturday night during protest action near Zuccotti Park. Many on-scene reported Ms. McMillan had trouble breathing after she was tackled and handcuffed by law enforcement.

A video uploaded to Youtube late Saturday night purports to show the attack. Two women can be heard commenting, “There’s Cecily,” then there is confusion as the police clearly perform a violent take-down on someone in the crowd.

According to Jeff Sharlet’s November, 2011 article about the Occupy Movement, this may be Ms. McMillan’s second violent encounter with police.

To read the full story, go here.

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Cops caught on video about 10 seconds in taking down the woman who had the apparent seizure:

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Watch video from inside Zuccotti Park as police moved in late last night:

- Show quoted text -

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The paper reports from last night's chaos at Zuccotti Park:

At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.

By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.

Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.

To read the full story, go here.

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@ Greg_Palast : Our photographer ZD Roberts beaten @OWS Zucotti Park by cops. Thrown to ground, hair grabbd, hit with clubs while yelling, I'M PRESS PRESS!

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@ macfathom : Doubling east on Barclay, and now the ragged front of the march is at City Hall. #OWS

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@ LuddoftheFuture : girl in the street having a seizure and the cops have her in handcuffs. can this get any worse (live at http://t.co/4pLyy3gP)

Activists cry out for paramedics. The woman is limp on the ground. "Come on you violent bastards where's the paramedics?"

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@ jeffrae : March is heading north up broadway #ows #occupywallstreet

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@ macfathom : Dozens of arrests, many cuffed and sitting on broadway waiting for their ride to jail. #OWS

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@ RDevro : Police are barricading the park. It's cleared. I witnessed countless violent arrests. No way to estimate numbers.

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@ troutish : Protesters being dragged out by the head at #OWS #Zucotti Park http://t.co/qomhKkrA

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Cops pulling apart human chains. There are shouts for mic checks. Now, chants start forming. "The NYPD are sweeping through," says Tim on the live stream.

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@ ANIMALNewYork : Police are moving in. It's chaos.

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@ ANIMALNewYork : NYPD just made an announcement that Brookfield has to "clean the park" and Liberty Plaza is officially "closed."

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@ OccupyWallStNYC : Bagpipers just started marching into the park bringing the party mood with them, NYPD arrested one of them, and things got real heated. #OWS

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@ JackieHRye : NYPD just "destroyed" the tent in Zuccotti Park, Occupiers call for its re-building. Marching band also going through the park. #OWS

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@ RDevro : The tent in the middle of the park continues to fill with people planning to stay the night. Lots of energy here.

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Activists ask for more room as the tent is growing, expanding.

"It looks like a floating tent." -- as Tim on his live stream.

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Owly Images

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@ OccupyWallStNYC : .@justawall is leading us in a song! "Hit the road, banks! And don't ya come back no more no more no more no more!" #OWS

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Activists have assembled make-shift, cardboard sleeping areas inside Zuccotti Park. The cardboard is joined by a large green tarp.

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@ RDevro : A tarp is going up in Zuccotti as protesters march around the park chant-dancing. #m17 http://t.co/rJfP3GF9

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Around the Web

Police Begin Clearing Zuccotti Park of Protesters - New York Times

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