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Judge Upholds Eviction of New York 'Occupy' Camp
NEW YORK — A New York judge has upheld the city's dismantling of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, saying that the protesters' first amendment rights don't entitle them to camp out indefinitely in the plaza.
Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman on Tuesday denied a motion by the demonstrators seeking to be allowed back into the park with their tents and sleeping bags.
Police cleared out the protesters in a nighttime sweep early Tuesday. The judge upheld the city's effective eviction of the protesters after an emergency appeal by the National Lawyers Guild.
The protesters have been camped out in privately owned Zuccotti Park since mid-September. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he ordered the sweep because health and safety conditions and become "intolerable" in the crowded plaza.
The protesters will be allowed to return to Zuccotti Park, where they camped for the past two months, but will have to abide by the park rules — designed to prevent them from setting up a camp again — that included a ban on sleeping bags, tents and the storage of belongings in the space.
The city filed court papers opposing the order and claiming that giving protesters free rein over the park would cause unsafe and unsanitary conditions. They also claimed occupiers were stockpiling makeshift weapons including metal-pipes inside cardboard tubes.
Earlier, Bloomberg told reporters Tuesday that he had not received the temporary restraining order and that the park would remain closed "until we can clarify the situation," he said.
Tuesday's earlier court order, which was published on The New York Times website, said authorities were prohibited from "preventing protesters from re-entering the park with tents and other property previously utilized." But Bloomberg closed the park while lawyers reviewed the order.
The park had become a health and fire safety hazard and that "unfortunately ... (it) became a place not to protest, but to break the law," Bloomberg said Tuesday.
"Inaction was not an option," he said. "We could not wait for someone in the park to get killed."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said around 200 were arrested overnight, including dozens who tried to resist by linking arms at the center of Zuccotti Park or chaining themselves together with bicycle locks.
NBC New York's Jonathan Dienst, who was at the scene in Lower Manhattan, reported that he had counted a further 40 arrests along Broadway.
A few protesters, who appeared to resist and shove officers, were thrown to the ground and placed in handcuffs, he reported.
Ryan Peters, 29, from Chicago, who took a leave of absence from the advertising agency where he works to tour different Occupy protests, cried as he told msnbc.com's Miranda Leitsinger that about 30 people had chained themselves up inside the Occupy protest's kitchen area.
"People want to fight for something that's really important," he said. "It makes me cry every time I think of them (the people in the kitchen) getting locked down in the park … these guys are patriots."
Another protester, Luc Baillargeon, 29, told Leitsinger that "a few" people were treated for pepper burns and minor lacerations but he added there were no apparent signs of serious injuries. NYPD told WNBC three people were injured during the evacuations, one of whom was taken to Bellevue Hospital.
Meanwhile, a message on the @OccupyWallSt Twitter account said that city council member Ydanis Rodriguez was "beaten by nypd and bleeding from head."
Police confirmed Rodriguez was part of a group arrested near Cortlandt Street and Broadway as they tried to push through a barricade around 1:45 a.m., NBC reported.
Josh Harkinson, writer for Mother Jones magazine and one of the few journalists present during the eviction, reported on Twitter that he heard from several sources that police felled a tree in the park in order to remove protesters who had climbed to safety.
After being evicted, several hundred demonstrators regrouped in nearby Foley Square to discuss their next move, setting up a new Twitter account.
Nicholas Frechette, 25, said he had been pepper sprayed during the eviction but was undeterred.
"We broke the night together doing something truly revolutionary," he said in Foley Square.
Protesters also grouped at Duarte Square, a city park at Canal Street and Avenue of the americas, about a mile north north of Zuccotti park. Two people with bolt cutters allegedly snipped a lock to a fenced-off lot at nearby Trinity Church aroud 11 a.m. EST. Police came in and cleared them out, arresting about two dozen people in the process, The New York Times reported.
After the church-lot was swept, aabout 350 protesters marched back to Zuccotti Park, blocking Broadway traffic along the way. They circled the park while awaiting the outcome of the court hearing.
Msnbc.com's Bob Sullivan reported from the scene that many police officers in riot gear had their helmets off and were chatting.