A day that began with an early-morning raid by hundreds of New York Police Department officers forcing Occupy Wall Street protestors from Zuccotti led to a day of legal wrangling that ended with a ruling that allows the Occupy Wall Street protestors to return to Zuccotti Park — without the tents, sleeping bags, generators and food that have fortified them for the last two months.
New York Supreme Court Judge Michael D. Stallman upheld the city’s right to enforce rules that bar camping by the OWS protesters from occupying Zuccotti Park overnight. The protestors, who have gathered for the last two months to fight what they believe are financial institutions and government run amok.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who earlier in the day called the decision to authorize the NYPD's 1 a.m. raid to clear the park, "mine and mine alone," said of Stallman's ruling, "The city has the ultimate responsibility to protect public health and safety and we will continue to ensure that everyone can express themselves in New York City. Zuccotti Park will remain open to all who want to enjoy it, as long as they abide by the park's rules."
In his ruling, Judge Michael D. Stallman wrote, “The court is mindful of the movements’ First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and peaceable assembly.” But he added, quoting from another case, “Even protected speech is not equally permissible in all places and at all times.”
According to Stallman, the protesters “had not demonstrated that the rules adopted by the owners of the property, concededly after the demonstrations began, are not reasonable time place and manner restrictions permitted under the First Amendment.”
Earlier Tuesday, Bloomberg said, "For two months, they have been allowed to use sleeping bags and tents. Now they will have to use the power of their arguments."
As the day unfolded, attorneys for the OWS movement petitioned the NY State Supreme Court for the right to return to the park after police officials confiscated tents, sleeping bags and other materials from protestors. The park was scrubbed down, rinsing the residue from two months of occupation.
The judge, Lucy Billings, signed a temporary restraining order that would have mandated that police allow the protestors to return after the park was cleaned. The police failed to comply until the city's attorneys could argue their care. The New York Times is reporting that the protestors are vowing to return to Zuccotti Park.
Stay tuned for more updates as they develop. If interested, follow on Twitter using the hashtag #ZuccottiPark.