It looks like there could be a major clash between Occupy Wall Street protesters and police on Friday.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg's people have announced that the city would clean Zuccotti Park on Friday, the small area in lower Manhattan where the protesters have been camping for four weeks.
The plan seemed like a reasonable compromise between Occupy Wall Street's desire to stay in the park and the city government's need to ensure that sanitation remain reasonable.
Bloomberg administration officials said the cleaning would not require an immediate and complete withdrawal from the park. Instead, the city would clean the park in sections, and protesters would be allowed to return to sections once the cleaning was done. At all times, they said, protesters would be able to maintain a presence in the park.
Still, many protesters don't trust the mayor. They note that his office said protesters would be able to return to areas that had been cleaned "provided they abide by the rules that Brookfield (the owner) has established for the park."
What exactly does that mean? Many believe it means the city is planning to announce rules that will effectively shut down the protest.
And, indeed, that seems to be what the city is planning.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday that he won't let the protesters return to the park with their belongings—basically the stuff they need to camp there indefinitely.
“People will have to remove all their belongings and leave the park,” Kelly said, according to The New York Post. “After it’s cleaned, they’ll be able to come back. But they won’t be able to bring back the gear, the sleeping bags. That sort of thing will not be able to be brought back into the park.”
In other words, the city is going to try to shut down Occupy Wall Street, just as the protesters feared.
Occupy Wall Street is planning on fighting back.
On its website, the occupiers have put out an "immediate call to action" that asks people to come to the park at 6 a.m. ET Friday.
"We won't allow Bloomberg and the NYPD to foreclose our occupation. This is an occupation, not a permitted picnic," the Occupiers write.
It seems very likely that this could turn into a major clash tomorrow morning.
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