Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Zuccotti Park barricades removed, OWS protesters stream back in

Barricades surrounding Zuccotti Park park were removed yesterday, clearing the way for protesters to stream back in.

The atmosphere at the park, which served as a camp for Occupy Wall Street protesters, was celebratory but calm last evening as about 300 protesters began filling in a couple of hours after the barricades were taken down and a day after a complaint about the barricades was filed with the city. Protesters milled around, eating lasagna on paper plates and playing chess.

Security guards who were previously guarding the barricades stood off to the side, along with a handful of police officers. It was a minor victory for the protesters, who have complained about financial inequality in demonstrations that gained traction across the globe.

"Word spread pretty quickly, and we ran down here," demonstrator Lauren DiGioia said. "It's hard to remember what it was like before the barricades were put up."

Police spokesman Paul Browne said the NYPD and Brookfield Office Properties, the park's owner, had been talking about removing the barriers last week. The decision was made to remove them yesterday because officials felt they were no longer necessary, Browne said.

Brookfield spokeswoman Melissa Coley confirmed in an email that the barricades were taken down but declined to comment further. A Brookfield employee who refused to give his name told an Associated Press reporter: "The barriers are down, but the other rules are the same."

Some Occupy protesters planned to stay overnight, DiGioia said, but it was unclear whether they planned to use tents or sleeping bags, which have been banned from the lower Manhattan park since an early morning police raid evicted protesters Nov. 15.

More at the Huffington Post.

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