NEW YORK - Police in riot gear forced out approximately 70 people who were camped outside New York City Hall since late June. They had been there to demand the end to "police brutality."
The so-called Occupy City Hall protesters had called for the city to defund the New York City Police Department by $1 billion amid a nationwide campaign to defund police departments after the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of police. The New York City Council did reduce funding, but many protesters remained weeks later.
The NYPD moved into City Hall Park at around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to clear the area. One person was arrested for attempted assault after hurling a brick at a police officer which struck his shield, said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. Six other people were detained and would likely receive summonses, added Shea during a news conference from City Hall later in the morning.
Video from the scene shows police with helmets and shields lined up creating a wall as they move in towards the protesters in Lower Manhattan. There were no reports of injuries.
"I'm not aware of any injuries to anyone," said Shea.
Protesters were given a warning to leave the park before police moved in.
Officers moved through the camp taking down tents and other temporary structures and tossing them into garbage trucks to be hauled away. Cleaning crews arrived later to scrub graffiti from buildings in the area.
Chambers Street and Center Street were closed hours later as police and sanitation workers removed debris and kept other protesters from reentering.
Critics said the of the billion-dollar cut say it wasn’t a billion-dollar cut at all. Some of the funding reduction, they noted, was merely shifting police functions like school safety to the Department of Education. And they doubted the promised reduction in overtime would ever happen.
De Blasio had resisted calls to move the protesters out of the park that adjoins the historic building where he works.
Asked about it Tuesday, de Blasio cited “a balance we always strike between the right to protest and especially public safety.” He added, “That decision will be made by the NYPD as things emerge. We’re looking at the situation every day. But again, I think we look at the specific facts of what’s going on and then decisions will be made day by day."
With the Associated Press