UPDATE -- New York -- As if the situation weren't dramatic enough, the NYPD announced that they would postpone clean-up operations of Zuccotti Park, the site of the protesters who call themselves Occupy Wall Street.
[View Advanced Trading's Top 10 Protest Signs from Occupy Wall Street slideshow.]
Yesterday, the office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that police would clear the park opposite the Brown Brother Harriman building to clean the area and make repairs that might have been the result of the four-week occupation. The Mayor said that protesters would be allowed to returned if they kept the area sanitary and obeyed local laws.
At around 40 minutes before the 7am deadline this morning, the police said they would postpone the 'clear and clean' operations.
A former colleague of mine who lives and works near the protests wrote in a Facebook post that the protesters were cleaning up the occupation site which consists of cardboard cots and wet sleeping bags. He wrote: "walked around #occuplywallstreet tonight. If Mayor says the park is dirty, he's lying. Those kids were SCRUBBING. Place was CLEAN #OWS."
News outlets are reporting that some Occupy Wall Street protesters viewed the NYPD news as a victory and some began an impromptu march to Wall Street. There were a few arrests.
There are also reports on Twitter that police officers are lined up with swaths of plastic handcuffs on their belts.
Stay tuned for details.
This is our report from last night:
The protests on Wall Street may enter a new phase as city officials asked members of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators to leave Zuccotti Park -- the epicenter of the four week-old protests -- so that the park can be cleaned and equipment can be repaired.
In a letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the private park's owners expressed concern for the unsanitary conditions and possible destruction that the protesters have caused to the small parcel of land opposite the Brown Brothers Harriman building in New York's financial district. The letter states:
After weeks of occupation, conditions of the Park have deteriorated to unsanitary and unsafe levels. The Park has no toilets and while the existing trash receptacles have always been more than adequate to accommodate normal waste in the Park, those receptacles are no longer even close to sufficient and the resulting trash accumulation is attracting rodents.
The letter also mentions light fixtures that may have been cracked and could harm protesters and cases of passers-by being allegedly harassed by members of the Occupy Wall Street team.
Mayor Bloomberg, who paid an unannounced visit to Zuccotti Park last night and was reportedly greeted with jeers, is facing a public relations nightmare. Not only is he the leader of a large and peaceful city he is also a monied member of the Wall Street community. Data terminals and applications with his name appear in almost every single investment house and exchange in the city and beyond. If any violent confrontation comes from his orders to clear the park, it will be rich with irony.
In a compromise, Mayor Mike is proposing a cleaning operation that will allow the protesters to return to their sites once the park is cleaned.
The mayor's office statement reads, "The cleaning will be done in stages, and the protesters will be able to return to the areas that have been cleaned, provided they abide by the rules that Brookfield has established for the park."
A group representing the Occupy Wall Street protests demurred and offered to clean the park themselves.
Let's hope the NYPD, who have come under fire for heavy-handed tactics in the early days of the protests, does not feel the need to resort to the same tactics of the Boston PD when clearing up those off-shoot protests last week. Likewise, the members of Occupy Wall Street may find that any support for their cause might collapse if they are seen as unreasonable, violent and outside the law.
Phil Albinus is the former editor-in-chief of Advanced Trading. He has nearly two decades of journalism experience and has been covering financial technology and regulation for nine years. Before joining Advanced Trading, he served as editor of Waters, a monthly trade journal ... View Full Bio