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 Post subject: Unsanitary Conditions At Protesters' Park
PostPosted: October 13th, 2011-- 7:29 pm 
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Unsanitary Conditions At Protesters' Park

Updated: Thursday, 13 Oct 2011, 2:19 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 13 Oct 2011, 11:44 AM EDT

BY NEWSCORE



NEW YORK - Protesters in Zucotti Park in Lower Manhattan were being told to move by Friday morning to allow for cleaning crews to perform maintenance.

Many of the protesters taking part in the Occupy Wall Street movement have been there since mid-September.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said they would be allowed to return following the cleaning. He made a surprise visit to the park Wednesday where he made the announcement.

The move could end the occupation because city officials said the privately owned Zuccotti Park's rules prohibiting camping, lying on the ground and storing property would be enforced after the cleaning begins on Friday morning.

Since protesters first encamped in the park on Sept. 17, they have created a makeshift community of tents, mattresses, giant plastic storage bins filled with Ramen noodles and canned goods, and boxes overflowing with donated books. A sanitation committee tries to keep the park clean.

But while Bloomberg believes the demonstrators have a First Amendment right to protest, Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway said in a statement Wednesday evening that conditions in the park had become "unsanitary."

"This situation is not in the best interests of the protesters, residents or the city," Holloway said.

Holloway said the cleaning will be completed in stages by the park's landlord, Brookfield Office Properties Inc., which has complained to the city about the protesters. Because the cleaning will involve power-washing, the police will advise protesters they must leave during the process, city officials said.

"The protesters will be able to return to the areas that have been cleaned, provided they abide by the rules that Brookfield has established for the park," Holloway said.

Some protesters objected to city and the landlord's depiction of the park and said some would try to remain, no matter what the city or Brookfield do.

"Unsanitary? We have a cleaning department here," said Junior Martinez, 23, who lives on the Lower East Side when not camping out. He added, "Tents or not, we will sleep without tents. I think people are going to end up doing it no matter what."

It was unclear Wednesday night who would be responsible for enforcing Brookfield's rules on tents and mattresses. If Brookfield called authorities for assistance, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said, without elaborating, police would handle it as they do calls every day to other private properties.

The situation highlights the unusual nature of Zuccotti Park, a privately owned space with 24-hour access.

Brookfield agreed to open the park as part of a zoning deal with the city.

In the weeks since the protesters began their encampment, Brookfield has repeatedly asked the NYPD to keep people from sleeping in it. But police have not acted on those requests. Brookfield reiterated its position in a letter on Tuesday to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

"After weeks of occupation, conditions at the Park have deteriorated to unsanitary and unsafe levels," Brookfield's CEO, Richard Clark, said in the letter, noting that Brookfield has "received hundreds of phone calls and emails from concerned citizens and office workers in the neighborhood."

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