NEW YORK—“We got all the dough,” Dutro said. “It’s on my person.”
Bloomberg said the evacuation was conducted in the middle of the night “to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood.”
“The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day,” Bloomberg said. “Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with, as the park has been taken over by protesters, making it unavailable to anyone else.”
He said the city would contest the motion filed by the National Lawyers Guild, a civil rights organization that has been representing arrested protesters.
The judge who issued the temporary restraining order, Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings, was a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union for 25 years before becoming a judge. A different judge was appointed to preside over the hearing.
The police commissioner said he thought the operation had gone well. He said officers gave the crowd 45 minutes to retrieve their belongings before starting to dismantle tents, and let people leave voluntarily until around 3:30 a.m., when they moved in to make mass arrests.
“Arresting people is not easy. Some people think it is. No it isn’t. It involves contact,” he said, adding that he thought the officers “showed an awful lot of restraint. “There was an awful lot of taunting, people getting in police officers’ faces, calling them names.”
Concerns about health and safety issues at Occupy Wall Street camps around the country have intensified, and protesters in several cities have been ordered to take down their shelters, adhere to curfews and relocate so that parks can be cleaned.
The surprise ouster at Zuccotti Park came as the movement was at its most vulnerable. A rift had been growing in recent weeks between the park’s full-time residents and the movement’s power players, most of whom no longer lived in the park.
The protesters who actually made things happen — the ones who planned marches and rallies and set plans into motion — held meetings in donated office space high above the park, in skyscrapers just like the ones housing the bankers they were protesting.
Some residents of Zuccotti Park have been grumbling about the recent formation of a “spokescouncil,” an upper echelon of organizers who held meetings at a high school near police headquarters. Some protesters felt that the selection of any leaders whatsoever wasn’t true to Occupy Wall Street’s original anti-government spirit: That no single person is more important or more powerful than another person.
But other protesters felt that Occupy Wall Street needed to be bigger than Zuccotti Park — that they had, in a sense, outgrown it.
Occupy encampments have come under fire around the country and even overseas as local officials and residents have complained about possible health hazards and ongoing inhabitation of parks and other public spaces.
Activists intend to converge at the University of California, Berkeley, on Tuesday for a day of protests and another attempt to set up an Occupy Cal camp, less than a week after police arrested dozens of protesters who tried to pitch tents on campus.
The Berkeley protesters will be joined by Occupy Oakland activists who said they would march to the UC campus in the afternoon. Police cleared the tent city in front of Oakland City Hall before dawn Monday and arrested more than 50 people amid complaints about safety, sanitation and drug use.
In London, authorities said they were resuming legal action to evict a protest camp outside St. Paul’s Cathedral after talks with the demonstrators stalled.
Associated Press writers Meghan Barr and Karen Matthews contributed to this report.