Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters streamed back into Zuccotti Park overnight Tuesday as the barricades surrounding the lower Manhattan plaza were finally removed.
The atmosphere turned celebratory as the campaigners hugged one another, enjoyed free lasagna and saw the resurrection of a small “People’s Library.”
The events were largely peaceful until 1:30 a.m. Wednesday when a 50 to 70 protesters remained in the privately owned public space and a handful attempted to lie down on pieces of cardboard.
The park’s owner, Brookfield Office Properties, has banned the use of tents, tarps or sleeping bags and even forbids people lying down on the benches. The rules were introduced after hundreds of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators began camping out in the park in September. They stayed for nearly two months until cops evicted them Nov. 15.
“The park is enforcing the rules,” an NYPD officer warned the protesters through a microphone.
“You are not allowed to lay down or sleep in the park.
“If you do not obey these orders, you will be arrested for trespassing. This is your final warning.”
Some protesters shouted back, “Go home, terrorist!” while others carried handmade “angry pacifists” signs.
As park officials moved to confiscate the cardboard the group was on, a tussle ensued and two protesters were removed from the area in plastic handcuffs as the rest of the crowd shouted, “Shame, shame.”