October 28, 2011 / 9:07 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 2-Generators taken from NY anti-Wall St protesters

* NY protest loses generators a day before first snow due

* Analysts say Bloomberg’s strategy simple - no violence (Adds call for investigation into Oakland incident)

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.


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.


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 California, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who has come under withering criticism for her handling of the protests, has 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.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America on Friday called for a “full and complete investigation” into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Quan has also agreed to meet with Occupy Oakland organizers but said they would not be allowed to camp in a city park.

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. (Writing by Michelle Nichols, additional reporting by Joan Gralla in New York, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Marty Graham in San Diego and Tim Ghianni in Nashville; editing by Anthony Boadle)

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