City Removes Illegal Barriers at Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park) One Day After Rights Groups Send Letter.
La policía de la ciudad de Nueva York quitó la barricadas ilegales que estaban alrededor de la Plaza de La libertad, un día después que la New York Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, y el New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild enviaron una carta pidiendo que se respetara las leyes de la ciudad. De acuerdo a la ley, el parque debe estar abierto 24 horas, 7 dias de la semana.
These barricades are not in the park anymore.
“For over the last month barricades completely surrounded Liberty Plaza. Only two small access points were allowed in and out of the park. Police searched people coming in, and refused to allow food and large bags inside the park.
That all changed yesterday, Tuesday, January 10, 2011, thanks to our legal support. Liberty Plaza is back!!”_Occupy Wall Street
“Moira Meltzer-Cohen, 34, a law student from Bedford-Stuyvesant, said that she was in a meeting in a public atrium on Wall Street on Tuesday when word began circulating that the barricades were being taken down. She said she rushed to the park and saw security guards stacking barricades that had ringed the park since the police cleared an Occupy Wall Street encampment there in mid-November, forcing protesters to enter single file.
“People flooded in, and there was a lot of jubilation,” she said. “There was so much joy because the park had been caged for so long.”
One lawyer who signed the letter, Gideon Oliver, said on Tuesday night that he had not heard from Brookfield or the city but said he thought it was a “reasonable inference” that the letter had led to the removal of the barricades.
A man who was seen directing security guards but would not give his name told protesters at one point that books were not permitted inside the park. A security guard told one man that drumming was not allowed (lying down is also not allow in the park. If you do it, you get arrested).”_New York Times.
At 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 11, some protesters attempted to lie down on pieces of cardboard.
“The park is enforcing the rules,” an NYPD officer warned the protesters through a microphone.
“You are not allowed to lay down or sleep in the park.
“If you do not obey these orders, you will be arrested for trespassing. This is your final warning.”
Some protesters shouted back, “Go home, terrorist!” while others carried handmade “angry pacifists” signs.
As park officials moved to confiscate the cardboard the group was on, a tussle ensued and two protesters were removed from the area in plastic handcuffs as the rest of the crowd shouted, “Shame, shame.”_NY Daily News.
January 10, 2012 — NYPD officers removed barriers tonight at Zuccotti Park, just one day after the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild put New York City on notice that its arbitrary and inconsistently applied rules and security measures restricting the public’s access to the park violated city zoning laws.
“We’re pleased the city is finally giving the park back to the people,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “We hope Zuccotti Park can now resume its rightful place as a center for meeting and protest in New York City.”
On Monday, the groups sent a letter New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri urging him to promptly address the violations and ensure that Zuccotti Park is open and accessible to all members of the public on an equal basis. Metal barricades had encircled the park since the NYPD cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment there on Nov. 16. Until tonight, the public could only enter the park through two gaps where security personnel selectively subjected people to searches.
The groups said that these security measures and the constantly changing, selectively enforced and unwritten park rules violated zoning laws, longstanding city policies, and park-owner Brookfield Properties’ legal obligations under a 1968 special zoning permit that established the park as a “permanently open park” for “the public benefit.” Letter from NYCLU
COMMENTS FROM PEOPLE ON FACEBOOK:
Nacho Perez: Our voices are finally being heard. That’s a good thing.
Joe Plonsker: Solidarity from San Francisco.
Kevin Moreau: You are our heroes!
Ian Lelen: Congrats occupiers.
Love Works: Celebration!!!!!!!!!!!
William Towers: Occupy forever.
Aangel Mays: Liberty Plaza is again LIBERTY Plaza!!! 😀 ?
Matt Thomas Oney: thank god and god bless America, there finally realizing they can beat us they can arrest us and they can even kill us but were not going away WE ARE LEGION FOR WE ARE MANY and were here to change America if that doesn’t work we will tear it down and rebuild it using the constitution as a building block.
Nondas Moraitis: Our support from occupied Greece!!!
Sean Wiggs: Solidarity from Occupy Seattle!
Melvin Clark: Solidarity from Occupy Phoenix!
Chris Cut Wars McCabe: Whose streets? OUR streets!
Robert Kelly: So, it has come to this. We now live in a world where lying down can get you arrested. Ah, but aint that America, for you and me…..
Gordon Rains: congrats from Minnesota!
Tito Coimbra: Down with the barricades. I Love Occupy!!
“The atmosphere was celebratory but calm on Tuesday evening as about 300 protesters began filling New York City’s Zuccotti Park a couple of hours after the barricades were taken down and a day after a complaint about the barricades was filed with the city.”
Press release from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild:
January 9, 2012 2:32 pm
Rights Groups Urge City to Halt Illegal Restrictions at Zuccotti Park
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2012 – Arbitrary and inconsistently applied rules and security measures restricting the public’s access to Zuccotti Park violate city zoning laws, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild argued today in a letter to the New York City Department of Buildings.
The groups urge Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri to promptly address the violations and ensure that Zuccotti Park is open and accessible to all members of the public on an equal basis.
“Right now, Zuccotti Park is a public space in name only,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “The metal barricades, security checkpoints and selectively enforced rules not only raise serious constitutional concerns, they violate city zoning laws. We expect the city to ensure that the park is managed in a manner consistent with its own laws.”
Metal barricades have encircled Zuccotti Park since the NYPD cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment there on Nov. 16. The public can only enter the park through two gaps where security personnel selectively subject people to searches.
The groups maintain that these security measures and the constantly changing, selectively enforced and unwritten park rules violate zoning laws, longstanding city policies, and park-owner Brookfield Properties’ legal obligations under a 1968 special zoning permit that established the park as a “permanently open park” for “the public benefit.”
In its letter, the groups present a list of these violations. Among them:
The metal barricades encircling the park violate a city voting law requiring at least 50 percent of the plaza’s frontage be unobstructed with unrestricted access to all walkways through the park.
The barricades and checkpoints interfere with the public’s use and enjoyment of the park, in violation of Brookfield’s legal obligation to maintain the space as a “permanent open park.” People are reluctant to enter an area encircled by metal police barricades.
The barricades constitute a major design modification to the park. Under zoning law, such modifications must go through a city approval process, which has not occurred.
Security personnel have prohibited individuals from bringing an ever-changing list of items into the park, including food, cardboard signs, musical instruments and yoga mats even though the park’s written rules do not prohibit any particular items from entering the park. The written rules only apply to prohibited conduct.
“In a statement issued by Mayor Bloomberg explaining his decision to evict peaceful protesters from Zuccotti Park, the mayor noted that ‘we must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws,’” said NYCLU Senior Staff Attorney Taylor Pendergrass. “That is precisely what we are asking the City to do now—comply with its own laws and restore the park to its role as a functioning public space open to all New Yorkers.”
“First Amendment freedoms are particularly vulnerable to selective enforcement by the government,” said Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Like the constitution, City zoning law also recognizes that in New York City’s public plazas, members of the public cannot be selectively targeted for the enforcement of patently unreasonable restrictions.”
“Brookfield and the City must remove these restrictions and restore Liberty Park to the people immediately,” said Gideon Orion Oliver, president of the National Lawyers Guild – New York City Chapter. “Every day they refuse to do so, they compound the irreparable harm they have done – and continue to do – to our First Amendment freedoms.”
In addition to the complaint filed today, others have made similar complaints to the Department of Buildings. The Department of Buildings’ online complaint website shows an open complaint regarding the barricades at Zuccotti Park, and the group “whOWNSspace” states that nearly 100 additional complaints have been filed by other individuals asking the Department of Buildings to investigate the ongoing zoning law violations at the park.
Read the full letter