New York City Manhattan

November 15, 2011 by staff 

New York City Manhattan, Police arrested at least 70 protesters at New York’s Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, including some who chained themselves together, while clearing the park so that sanitation crews could clean it.

Concerns about health and safety issues at Occupy Wall Street camps around the country have intensified, and protesters have been ordered to take down their shelters, adhere to curfews and relocate so that parks can be cleaned.

At about 1 a.m. Tuesday, New York City police handed out notices from Brookfield Office Properties, owner of Zuccotti Park, and the city saying that the park had to be cleared because it had become unsanitary and hazardous. Protesters were told they could return in several hours, but without sleeping bags, tarps or tents.

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Paul Brown, a spokesman for the New York Police Department, said the park had been cleared by 4:30 a.m. and that about 70 people who’d been inside it had been arrested, including a group who chained themselves together. One person was taken to a local hospital for evaluation because of breathing problems.

Police in riot gear filled the streets, car lights flashing and sirens blaring. Protesters, some of whom shouted angrily at police, began marching to two locations in Lower Manhattan where they planned to hold rallies.

CBS News correspondent Manuel Gallegus reports that he and other credentialed media are being kept blocks away from the park, but he could see a bulldozer heading for the camp under police escort.

According to The New York Post, more than 1,000 police officers – many of them rookies – took part in the raid.

Some protesters refused to leave the park, but many left peacefully.

Ben Hamilton, 29, said he was arrested “and I was just trying to get away” from the fray.

Rabbi Chaim Gruber, an Occupy Wall Street member, said police officers were clearing the streets near Zuccotti Park.

“The police are forming a human shield, and are pushing everyone away,” he said.

Jake Rozak, another protester, said police “had their pepper spray out and were ready to use it.”

Notices given to the protesters said the park “poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard to those camped in the park, the city’s first responders and the surrounding community.”

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