Jewish demonstrators blasted authorities for clearing the Occupy Wall Street protest, saying Mayor Michael Bloomberg betrayed Jewish values by ordering the late-night raid.
“We are outraged by Mayor Bloomberg’s contempt for the rights of American citizens and his use of public health and safety to justify beating and macing nonviolent protesters,” said Daniel Sieradski, who organized Jewish religious observances at the protest site. “The mayor’s actions reflect neither Jewish, nor American, nor human values.”
Demonstrators vowed to retake the protest site Tuesday afternoon but a judge ruled they could not camp out at Zuccotti Park.
An estimated 1,000 baton-wielding police officers descended on Zuccotti Park around 1 am Tuesday. Within a couple of hours, they had cleared protesters out of the lower Manhattan park where they have been for several weeks.
After ordering demonstrators to leave, police moved into the park, followed by Sanitation workers who cleared tents and sleeping bags.
Several dozen protesters refused to leave, shouting, “Whose park? Our park!” Police arrested an estimated 150 people, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told the Associated Press.
There were no reported injuries and the operation ended without the widespread clashes that marked similar police actions in other cities such as Portland, Ore., and Oakland, Calif.
Jewish protesters, who dub themselves Occupy Judaism, said the police action would not succeed in stopping the movement.
“You cannot evict an idea thats time has come,” Sieradski said. “You cannot evict 99% of America. You cannot evict 99% of humanity.”
By daybreak, the park was entirely cleared of protesters. Authorities said demonstrators would be allowed to return at some point, without tents and sleeping gear.
Many protestors regrouped in Foley Square a few blocks away, but it was unclear if any decision had been made about what to do next. Another group linked arms outside City Hall, which is also nearby.
Protesters obtained an early morning court order that apparently permits them to return to the park, which is near the World Trade Center site and close to the Financial District.
Hundreds were marching there in hopes of restoring the protest, but police vowed not to allow them to set up a permanent camp.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement in which he asserted the need to balance the right of free speech with public safety and health concerns.
“The occupation was coming to pose a health and fire safety hazard to the protestors and to the surrounding community,” Bloomberg said.