Photo: Julia La Roche for Business Insider
It’s been almost three weeks since the non-violent demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street movement have been camped out at their Zuccotti Park headquarters in Manhattan’s Financial District.The anti-corporate demonstrators didn’t intend on having Zuccotti Park be their campsite.
According to AdBusters, they initially wanted to erect tents thousands of tents on Wall Street, but that didn’t happen due to police barricades.
Instead, the group moved a few blocks away from Wall Street to the privately-owned Zuccotti Park.
That’s lucky for them.
Had the protesters chosen a city-owned park they would be kicked out when it closes.
So now as the crowd of protesters continues to swell and the movement gains momentum, the Occupy Wall Streeters are showing no sign that they will be leaving Zuccotti Park.
And no one has kicked them out yet either. But will they be asked to leave soon?
Zuccotti Park happens to be owned by Brookfield Office Properties, the same company that, ironically, owns many of the bank office buildings.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal last week, Brookfield didn’t want the protesters inhabiting their park, but the police persuaded them to let them stay.
From the WSJ:
Brookfield would rather have the protesters removed, but the New York Police Department has urged the firm to let them stay, according to a person familiar with the matter. Both Brookfield and the NYPD say they’re working together to resolve the situation.
The company recently released a statement and it sounds like they’re becoming even more irritated with the whole situation.
Statement from Brookfield:
As the owner of Zuccotti Park, Brookfield Office Properties is committed to maintaining a clean and safe environment for the public to enjoy.
For more than two weeks, protestors have been squatting in the park. Brookfield recognises people’s right to peaceful protest; however, we also have an obligation to ensure that the park remains safe, clean, and accessible to everyone.
Basic rules intended to keep the park safe, open, clean, and welcoming to all visitors are clearly posted. These rules include bans on the erection of tents or other structures, as well as the placement of tarps, sleeping bags or other coverings on the property. Lying down on benches, sitting areas or walkways is likewise prohibited. Unfortunately, many of the individuals currently occupying the grounds are ignoring these basic yet necessary requirements, which interferes with the use of the park by others, including local residents, office workers, and visitors.
Sanitation is a growing concern. Normally, the park is cleaned and inspected every weeknight. This process includes power washing, litter removal, landscaping and other maintenance as required. Because many of the protestors refuse to cooperate by adhering to the rules, the park has not been cleaned since Friday, September 16, and as a result, sanitary conditions have reached unacceptable levels.
We continue to work with the City of New York to address these conditions and restore the park to its intended purpose.
Clearly, the protesters are violating the rules of the park set forth by Brookfield.
According to the Journal, Brookfield posted the rules against tarps and sleeping bags that are obviously targeted at the protesters after they had taken up camp in the park.
From the WSJ:
Previously, the only rules posted in the park prohibited skateboarding, rollerblading and bicycling. Men in suits tried to pass out printed copies of the rules, but protesters refused and chanted “Don’t take the papers”. So they put stacks on benches and tables, prompting the protesters to accuse them of littering.
While Occupy Wall Street does break the rules prohibiting tarps, sleeping bags and lying on benches, etc. the protesters have organised a sanitation “working group” that sweeps the park and removes trash from the site. Still, it has to be difficult task to maintain a clean environment with a swelling mass of demonstrators pouring into the Lower Manhattan park.
Now the park landlord is in a difficult situation.
According to the Journal, a federal judge has ruled protesters can sleep on New York City sidewalks. That means, if they were kicked out that could possibly result in an influx of demonstrators camping out on the streets interfering with foot traffic.
It could possibly mean legal trouble for the landlord if they’re asked to leave the premises. Because the park is private it gives it an “unusual legal status” which means the protesters could have “more leverage” in court, the Journal said.
The property management company declined to comment on what actions, or if any actions will be taken, to remove the Occupy Wall Streeters from the property.
UPDATE: A reader pointed out to us that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s long-time girlfriend Diana L. Taylor is a member of the Board of Directors for Brookfield Office Properties.