New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday the Occupy Wall Street protesters can camp out in Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan for as long as they want.
Zuccotti Park, the movement’s unofficial headquarters located just blocks from Wall Street, is a privately owned, publicly accessible park where protesters have gathered for 24 days. Bloomberg said as long as demonstrators do not break the law, the city will permit them to stay, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"The bottom line is – people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we’ll allow them to,” Bloomberg said before marching in the Columbus Day Parade on Fifth Avenue. “If they break the laws, then, we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do: enforce the laws.”
The mayor told the WSJ he has “no idea” how long the protest will last, but added that he thinks “part of it has probably to do with the weather.”
Bloomberg has previously spoken out against Occupy Wall Street and slammed the protesters last week, saying their attack on banks could harm one of the city’s major employers.
“The protests that are trying to destroy the jobs of working people in this city aren’t productive,” Bloomberg said during his weekly radio show on Friday.
Brookfield Office Properties, the owner of the park, had no statement on Monday in light of Bloomberg’s comments. Last week, Brookfield said many of the protesters are ignoring basic park rules such as the ban on tents and sleeping bags. In the statement, the company added that the park has not been cleaned since Sept. 16 and sanitary conditions have “reached unacceptable levels.” Brookfield wrote that “we continue to work with the City of New York to address these conditions and restore the park to its intended purpose.”