NEW YORK — On a damp Friday morning (October 14), thousands of protesters assembled in the city’s Zuccotti Park let out cheers of elation and relief. They had been facing what seemed to be an imminent confrontation with the New York Police Department after Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the park on Wednesday evening and announced that a crew would move in to clean the area forcing the temporary eviction of demonstrators .
While Occupiers were prepared to resist the mandatory evacuation, in the end, the private company that owns the park decided at the 11th hour to postpone any cleaning efforts. MTV News was on site at Occupy Wall Street in the early dawn hours tracking all of the events as they went down.
At about 6 a.m. ET on Friday, organizers conducted a special general assembly of the Occupy Wall Street movement, informing the crowd that committed supporters who chose to stay in the park once the cleaners turned up would likely face arrest by the NYPD. But then, with minutes to go before the expected standoff, an organizer reported that were was “breaking news.”
She went on to read a statement off of her iPhone, announced to the crowd, “I have an announcement from Brookfield Properties. I’d like to read a brief statement from Deputy Mayor Halloway: ‘Late last night we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park, Brookfield Properties, that they are postponing their cleaning.’ ”
Supporters erupted into cheers and used designated Occupy sign language to express their approval. Soon, they were chanting “The people united / Will never be defeated.”
Aaron Khandros, a student at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University, had traveled to New York City to show his support, knowing well that he might face arrest if he refused to leave the park. “We came out here because we thought that people were going to come out here and try and shut it down, that Bloomberg was using this cleaning thing as an excuse,” he explained. “This seemed like one of our last chances to express our solidarity with this crowd, so we came as quickly as we could.”
Emma Francis-Snyder, an organizer with the Occupy Wall Street outreach program, had been on site since 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. Exhausted (but also rather thrilled) by the events of the previous 48 hours, she explained how the group had spent an anxious night.
“We’ve relocated a bunch of our materials to a storage space because we weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Francis-Snyder said, citing the experiences of Occupy Denver and Occupy Austin, where movements had been shut down under the pretext of sanitation.
In a bid to be proactive, the Wall Street occupiers decided to clean the park themselves. “There was a lot of stress throughout the night just trying to clean,” Francis-Snyder said hours before the postponement was announced. “There were people working endlessly, tirelessly, trying to gather all of our belongings; trying to figure out what to do with them, where to go. It is what it is — whatever’s going to happen, is going to happen.”
Although they had prepared for the worst, some demonstrators said the final outcome was not unexpected.
“I think I was in shock. I wasn’t entirely surprised because if you come out here, there are at least maybe 2,000 people out here, and I think that the Mayor knows that the whole world is watching,” Senia Barragan, an organizer with Occupy Wall Street’s press committee, told MTV News. “And they know that we’re a serious movement that can’t easily be thrown out of this space.
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