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Uprising

Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012, 7:44 am

Police Evict Hundreds of Protesters From Union Square

By Allison Kilkenny

Updated March 22, 2012*

It seems the NYPD's tolerance for public occupations has reached an all-time low. Police evicted the fledgling Occupy Wall Street camp set up at Union Square that I wrote about yesterday, which the OWS website claimed started with about 70 individuals but exploded to 300 early Wednesday.

Just after midnight, the NYPD moved in and forced several hundred people out onto the sidewalk, and barricaded off the southern end of the park. At least one arrest *six arrests were made, and according to multiple observers, a protester went into labor during the standoff.

"Break on the Union Square standoff to remove an Occupier in labor," tweeted @JoeyBoots, who posted this photo of the woman being carried away:

"A woman behind the police line just went into labor. Protesters begged 2 let her out 2 deliver. Being lifted into ambulance now," @OccupyWallStNYC tweeted, adding, "I have lived in #NYC for 15 years & I have never seen #UnionSq shut down, not even after 9/11. Who is the terrorist now #Bloomberg?"

Police violently rushed the crowd, "shoving and attacking people," according to RT, and activists claim a woman was badly injured after officers grabbed and threw her to the ground. (photo by @JoeyBoots)

As has become customary at Occupy protesters, police reportedly filmed the activists' face, which caused some to tweet the need for bringing bandanas or masks for those arriving to "reinforce" the protest, RT reports.

Independent journalist John Knefel tweeted that he discovered an "army of cops," some in riot gear, upon his arrival at Union Square, and he spoke with protesters who have spent three nights at the new occupation, and as many as 100 individuals stayed overnight on Tuesday. (photo by @johnknefel)

Protesters were "understandably uneasy after weekend's brutality," Knefel tweeted, referencing the police violence that occurred at Zuccotti Park during Occupy's 6-month anniversary. "Memory of violence close to surface," Knefel wrote.

Gothamist points out, though city parks, unlike Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) like Zuccotti, close at 1 a.m., the curfew has almost never been implemented at Union Square.

"I'm overwhelmed," said Amanda DeRoller, 22, a protester from Harlem, to the New York Daily News. "I don't understand why we can’t be here. Usually the park is open 24 hours. Now they want us out, because Bloomberg says so. It makes no sense." (photo by @OccupyWallStNYC)

Occupiers quickly gathered to figure out what their next move should be. (photo by @JoeyBoots)

"No one is doing anything wrong," said Lina Cigno, 21, of Washington, D.C. "We just want a place to protest. They are trying to get us out."

Cigno said the police had no justification for the eviction. "One girl was hitting her tambourine too hard?" she asked sarcastically. 

The Daily News reports dozens of police surrounded the edge of the park and at least two FDNY ambulances showed up, fearing violence.

The crowd assembled at the edge of the park, chanting, "Zuccotti is everywhere."

City authorities have said they will tolerate OWS in small numbers, but they cannot sit or lie down in the park if their number goes above 25, the Daily News reports.

"What's the long-term plan here, NYPD? To close every park in NYC to the entire public forever? That'll go over well," tweeted @CarrieM213.

Allison Kilkenny is an In These Times Staff Writer and the co-host of the critically acclaimed radio show Citizen Radio. Her blog for In These Times, Uprising, focuses on efforts around the world to address the global economic crisis.

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