By Staff Writers
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 5:50 a.m. EST
New York police began to clear Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, forcing them out of their longtime encampment in Lower Manhattan.
Protesters were told they could return once the park has been cleaned, but that seemed a long time off as tents were being dismantled and some people within the park reported seeing police batons in use.
At about 1 a.m. ET, police handed out notices from the park's owner, Brookfield Office Properties, and the city saying that the park had to be cleared, because it had become unsanitary and hazardous. Protesters were told they could return in several hours, but without sleeping bags, tarps or tents.
Minutes later, the mayor's office tweeted that the protesters should "temporarily leave."
Broadcasting a livestream from the streets adjacent to the park, a videographer who identified himself as being with "The Other 99" described events from the streets around him.
"I'm at Broadway and Pine right now," he said. "We've got about 200, maybe 300 people standing in front of the barricade on the street .… Aside from the yelling, we have a pretty calm situation right now."
Some people had chained themselves together, forcing police to disconnect them, he said.
At about 4 a.m. ET, however, observers reported an influx of police wearing riot gear, as a helicopter hovered overhead lighting up the crowd. As people joined arms, however, and tensions rose, police backed away rather than let the situation become violent.
There were also some protesters wearing masks and bandanas who were accused of deflating police vehicle tires. They also tried to prevent the videographer from continuing to shoot the scene. Others in the crowd said they didn't recognize the masked people, wjho appeared concerned about being identified.
Zuccotti Park in Lower ManhattanPaul Browne, a spokesman for the New York Police Department, says most people began filing out of the park once they received the notices; one person was arrested for disorderly conduct. Brown says the park was not heavily populated Tuesday morning.
Rabbi Chaim Gruber, an Occupy Wall Street member, said police officers were clearing the streets near Zuccotti Park.
"The police are forming a human shield, and are pushing everyone away," he said.
Notices given to the protesters said the park "poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard to those camped in the park, the city's first responders and the surrounding community."
"The Other 99" videographer spoke with people inside (by phone) and outside the park for more than two hours, streaming the results to the web. Multiple twitter feeds supported the effort. And Al-Jazeera used part of the livestream at one point in the night,
'Shut down Wall Street'
The notice from the park owners said that tents, sleeping bags and other items had to be removed, because "the storage of these materials at this location is not allowed." Anything left behind would be taken away, the notices said, giving an address at a sanitation department building where items could be picked up.
The New York Times reported at its website that the clearing out of Zuccotti Park came as protesters announced on their website that they planned to "shut down Wall Street" with a demonstration on Thursday to commemorate the completion of two months of the beginning of the encampment, which has spurred similar demonstrations across the country.
On Monday, a small group of demonstrators, including local residents and merchants, protested at City Hall. In recent weeks, they have urged the mayor to clear out the park because of its negative impact on the neighborhood and small businesses.
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