Was Michael Bloomberg right to evict Occupy Wall Street?

New York's mayor orders police to oust protesters from Zuccotti Park — and inadvertently galvanizes the fraying movement in the process

Workers clean up Zuccotti Park after New York City police remove Occupy Wall Street protesters on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's orders early Tuesday morning.
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

At 1 a.m. Tuesday, police officers handed out eviction notices to Occupy Wall Street protesters in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park. Soon after, officers in riots gear descended on the park to clear out the Occupiers. According to Police Commisioner Ray Kelly, nearly 200 people were arrested overnight, including many who tried to stay by linking arms in the middle of the park. Police reportedly attempted to impose a media blackout on the eviction, with numerous journalists blocked off from the area, roughed up, and even arrested. By early afternoon Tuesday, the park remained closed, as OWS and the city awaited a court decision as to whether protesters, and their tents, should be allowed to return to Zuccotti. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the decision to evict the protesters by saying it was necessary to protect the health and safety of protesters and neighbors. "The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out — but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others — nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law," he said. Was he right to order the eviction?

Yes. It was about time: "Bloomberg's forced cleansing of Zuccotti Park nearly two months into an unsanitary and sometimes dangerous encampment was just what the doctor had been ordering," says the New York Daily News in an editorial. The aimless protest had transformed a public space into a "round-the-clock shantytown." Occupiers are free to protest, but their constitutional rights do not include claiming every inch of a public park as their home, setting up generators, littering, and loudly drumming into the night. Their political convictions do not entitle them "to the privilege of behaving obnoxiously."

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