Tonight, as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dined at the posh Cipriani restaurant downtown, Occupy Wall Street protesters attempted to deliver him a petition with 310,000 signatures supporting the their right to remain in Zuccotti Park, where they have been camped out for 28 days.
But the mayor refused to come out of the restaurant, instead making his exit out of a back door.
Thirteen members of the New York City Council on Thursday urged Mayor Michael Bloomberg to allow the protesters to remain camped out at Zuccotti Park.
“We are writing to appeal to your not to enforce new rules at Liberty Plaza that would effectively evict the Occupy Wall Street protest,” they wrote in a letter. “Please respect the deep traditions of free speech and right of assembly that make this a great, free, diverse, and opinionated city and nation.”
New York City officials earlier ordered Wall Street protesters to clear their sleeping bags and tarps from the park by 7 a.m. tomorrow morning so that sanitation crews could clean Zuccotti Park. But demonstrators said they wouldn't go anywhere Friday morning, setting the stage for a showdown with police.
The owner of the private park where the demonstrators have camped out for nearly a month said it has become trashed and "unsanitary." Brookfield Office Properties planned a section-by-section power-washing of Zuccotti Park at 7 a.m. Ironically, Mayor Bloomberg's girlfriend Diana Taylor is on Brookfield Office Properties Board.
Occupy Wall Street spokesman Patrick Bruner sent an email to supporters on Thursday asking them to join the protesters at 6 a.m. Friday to "defend the occupation from eviction," wary that the clean-up effort is a dirty trick to end their demonstrations.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told the New York Post on Thursday that after the park is cleaned, returning protesters will be prohibited from bringing tents and sleeping bags.
He said the demonstrators were notified of the new policy through pamphlets passed out by police officers.
The notice lists regulations including no tents, no tarps or sleeping bags on the ground, no lying on benches and no storage of personal property. All those practices have been common at the park, where protesters have lived, slept and eaten for nearly a month.
Mayor Bloomberg visited the protesters Wednesday to offer assurances but didn’t stay long.
Luke Richardson, a 25-year-old protester, told the New York Daily News: "I think we did the right thing - we booed him out of here."
The Occupy Wall Street movement has also drawn reaction from world leaders, including President Obama and former Polish President Lech Walesa, who said Thursday that he supports the NY protest and plans to visit or write a letter to the protesters.
He said the global economic crisis has made people aware that "we need to change the capitalist system" because we need "more justice, more people's interests, and less money for money's sake."