The Occupy Wall Street Eviction: What You Need To Know

For roughly two months, protestors have occupied New York City’s Zuccotti Park in protest of growing class disparity, attempts to strip unions of their rights, continued unemployment and lack of job creation and more. The peaceful protest known as Occupy Wall Street has spread its influence all over, leading to Occupy sites in many major cities.

Photo by Amanda Farah on Flickr

Then, at 1:20 this morning (Eastern Standard Time), the New York Police Department, under the orders of New York Mayor Bloomberg, stormed the Zuccotti Park encampment to evict the protestors, tear down their tents and their kitchen and arrest those who resisted.

The Major Players:

  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Mayor of New York City since 2002. He has been at odds with the OWS movement since it began and has made multiple attempts to have the protestors removed from the park.
  • The Occupiers: Students, union workers, veterans, the unemployed, anarchists there’s pretty much someone from every walk of life at the OWS protests. Don’t let the drum circles fool you, this is an eclectic movement.
  • Lucy Billings: a New York City judge.

The Events:

Once again, someone else has put together a timeline, but the basic idea is that at 1:20 AM, police arrived on the scene and ordered protestors to leave the park. Bloomberg claimed that the park’s owners had asked for his help because of “health and safety” issues. He also stated “New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself…What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that.”

Then, this morning, New York Judge Lucy Billings issed an order claiming that the eviction was illegal and that protestors must be allowed back into the park. Occupiers have vowed to retake the park.

The Big Issues At Stake:

  • The Right to Peacefully Protest: This is guaranteed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, however it seems that the eviction of OWS was a violation of this right.
  • Freedom of the Press: Reports were pouring in last night of the NYPD’s apparent attempt to keep the media away from the protests. Many professional, credentialed jouranlists were even arrested while attempting to cover the protest. This, combined with the time of the eviction, has led to some people claiming it was all done in order to keep the media from covering the event.
  • Police Brutality/The Militarization of Police Forces: Throughout the Occupy movement there have been stories of police brutality, from the macing of peaceful protestors to the near death of Marine Scott Olsen, who was shot in the head with a “non-lethal” rubber bullet…and when people rushed to aid him, they were tear gassed. Have the police gone too far and why is no one stepping in to keep them in check?
  • The New Media: The breaking coverage of the eviction this morning was not in the hands of CNN, MSNBC or Fox News. It was in the hands of people on Twitter, Tumblr, Boing Boing, it was in the hands of anyone with a cell phone or internet access. With the “old” media becoming more and more about ratings and money over information, what place does the New Media have in this world?

There’s obviously a ton of coverage out there right now, and you should check it out. Boing Boing has ongoing coverage, and Twitter, Tumblr and other websites are blowing up with breaking coverage. Inform yourself!