UPDATE 4-Generators taken from NY anti-Wall St protesters

Sat Oct 29, 2011 1:16am EDT

Related Topics

* NY protest loses generators a day before first snow due

* Analysts say Bloomberg's strategy simple - no violence

* Injured marine remains in fair condition

* Oakland protesters vow to disrupt cargo traffic at port

By Chris Francescani and Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Anti-Wall Street protesters' plans to camp in a New York park throughout the city's harsh winter were dealt a blow on Friday when the fire department confiscated generators and fuel because they posed a danger.

With the first snow forecast to fall on Saturday, the Occupy Wall Street movement against economic inequality lost the generators that had been powering heat, computers and a kitchen in the Lower Manhattan camp they set up six weeks ago.

"They think that taking the 'power' away will take the power away, and that's absolutely not true at all," said Occupy Wall Street spokesman Michael Booth.

The movement has sparked so-called occupations in cities across the United States. But recent evictions in places like Oakland, California, where police used tear gas and stun grenades, and Atlanta, have New York protesters on edge.

However, unlike protesters elsewhere, who rallied in city parks which typically have a curfew at night, those in New York set up camp in a privately-owned park open to the public 24 hours a day and cannot be removed unless the owner, Brookfield Office Properties, officially complains to the city.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the six generators and fuel were confiscated because they were considered a safety hazard and it was not a bid to remove protesters.

"As long as they don't take away anybody else's rights to say what they want to say, or to not say anything, to go about their business safely ... at the moment it will continue," Bloomberg told local radio.

NO VIOLENCE

Some analysts said that Bloomberg's strategy toward the protesters was simple -- contain them and ensure there is no violence like that seen in Oakland, where former U.S. Marine Scott Olsen was badly injured in clashes with police.

"Everything is about containing it, if it goes on for a long time they are prepared. Let them live and be well and it will come to an end," said political strategist Hank Sheinkopf. "The strategic move is not to have violence."

Ken Sherrill, a professor of political science at Hunter College in New York, said any kind of conflict would be bad for the city's image and that Bloomberg was no doubt hoping that the protest would fade as the weather worsened.

"That doesn't mean that the mayor wants to make life easy for the demonstrators," he said. "Other than perhaps ratcheting up the inconveniences, there's not going to be anything more intense and I think that would be ill-conceived anyway."

But Occupy Wall Street spokesman Ed Needham said the removal of the generators was "certainly a directed effort to thwart our situation." He said solar powered generators were being brought in to replace those taken.

"It makes us feel like this is a confrontational relationship between the city and the park, and that's not the type of relationship we're trying to foster," Needham said. "We'll do just fine this winter. Our volunteers are as creative and resourceful as they are committed."

A possible showdown between Occupy Wall Street and New York police was averted two weeks ago when Brookfield Office Properties postponed a cleanup of the area, which protesters feared was a bid to remove them.

OAKLAND APOLOGY

Protesters say they are upset that the billions of dollars in bank bailouts doled out during the recession allowed banks to resume earning huge profits while average Americans have had no relief from high unemployment and job insecurity.

They also believe the richest 1 percent of Americans do not pay their fair share in taxes.

Occupy Arrests, a Twitter feed compiling arrests related to Occupy Wall Street, said that since the movement began five weeks ago, 2,750 people have been arrested around the world, including about 1,000 in New York City.

New York police spokesman Paul Browne said on Friday: "Lawful protest is accommodated and when there's unlawful conduct arrests are made."

In San Diego, 51 people were arrested and in Nashville, Tennessee, dozens of protesters were arrested when their camps were cleared by police on Friday.

In Oakland, demonstrators vowed to march on Wednesday to the busy Port of Oakland next week to disrupt cargo traffic. They had already called for a citywide strike that day to protest against what they have called "brutal and vicious" treatment of demonstrators by the police and city officials.

The plan for the march to the port came after Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who has come under withering criticism for her handling of the protests, apologized for a clash between police and protesters during a march on Tuesday night that wounded ex-Marine Olsen.

"When there's violence there are no winners," she said. "It polarizes us and opens old wounds rather than brings us together, which is the aim of Occupy Wall Street and uniting the 99 percent," she said in a written statement.

Quan, who was booed out of a public square by protesters on Thursday, said later in a videotaped statement posted online from her office that she had met with Olsen and his parents and was concerned about his recovery.

A spokesman for Highland General Hospital in Oakland said Olsen remained in fair condition on Friday, upgraded from critical one day earlier, and was visiting with his parents.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America on Friday called for a "full and complete investigation" into the circumstances surrounding the incident. Protest organizers said the ex-Marine was struck in the head with a tear gas canister fired by police.

In her videotaped statement, Quan said she was "asking" protesters to refrain from camping overnight in Frank Ogawa Plaza, a public square adjacent to the mayor's office that has been the fulcrum of demonstrations.

In New York about 200 people, some dressed in Halloween costumes, peacefully marched past various bank headquarters in midtown Manhattan, but they were almost outnumbered by police.

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Comments (2)
bone1 wrote:
america is no longer a free country

Oct 28, 2011 11:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
stan11222 wrote:
You can’t make this stuff up! The very same people who have inflicted the most “hazards” to the Occupy Wall Street participants….swooped in early yesterday morning with their white shirts and badges, and carted away the OWS generators; ostensibly because they were deemed ” a fire hazard”. This, after 45 days of problem-free use, and just before an impending snowstorm! Of course, they can’t be blamed. They were only following orders…. of Mayor Show-Me-The-Permit 0001%, who sleeps ever so comfortably in his overheated mansion, and makes pompous speeches about the freedoms that we all enjoy, on the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty’s dedication. All this just a few short miles from Zuccotti Park. This is not mere double speak….it’s super triple speak, on speed AND acid! No matter how pretty you try to make the crap sound…it’s still crap. And more and more people are realizing it. Finally. Lady Liberty must be smiling. I know I am!

Oct 29, 2011 1:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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