FACE OFF

UPDATE: Postponed Park Cleaning Avoids Occupy Wall Street Showdown

UPDATE (7:22 am 10/14/11) – At 6:20am EST, NYC Deputy Mayor Caswell F. Holloway said, “Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park — Brookfield Properties — that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation… Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use,” Mr. Holloway said, “and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown.”

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is a protest against the government infusion of taxpayer money to support the very financial institutions that helped wreck the economy. Over most of the last month, the demonstrators have camped in New York City’s Zuccotti Park turning it into a makeshift headquarters where protesters can organize, picket, play or rest 24 hours a day.

Enter New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday night to tell the protesters that they must clear out all their crap by 7am Friday morning so Brookfield Properties, the company which controls the park, can give Zuccotti a long-ovderdue cleaning.

Afterwards, the city police commissioner says the protesters can return, but they cannot set up camp again—a condition which basically threatens to end the protest.

The protesters have banded together to clean the park in an attempt to hold off Brookfield. But the cops will likely haul off any protesters resisting removal. Some of the protesters have promised to leave and then peaceably protest if they cannot re-enter the property after the cleaning ends.

We’re on pins and needles wondering how it will all pan out. Especially since LGBTs and allies are among the protesters and possibly amongst the cleaners and cops who will soon visit the park.

Civil rights protesters have long used non-violent occupation of public and private space as a means of civil disobedience. The future of the OWS protest depends greatly on how both sides respond to this morning’s cleaning and its aftermath.