In a setback for the Occupy Wall Street movement, police moved into New York City's Zuccotti Park overnight and cleared out the encampment. About 200 people were ejected, about 70 were arrested and the park was cleared of tents, tarps and debris by police and the sanitation department.
In a press conference this morning, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said it was his decision alone to have the park cleared, and that most of the protesters had left peacefully after being notified at 1 a.m. that they must remove their tents and sleeping bags and follow the park's rules. The city plans to let protesters back into the park — but not their tents and sleeping bags — after clarifying a court order it received, said the mayor. The park remains closed.
"In the future, protesters and the general public will be welcome there to exercise their First Amendment rights and otherwise enjoy the park, but they will not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags or tarps, and moving forward must follow all park rules," Bloomberg said, also saying that health and safety concerns were the reason for the move.
Earlier, NY1 reported:
Seventy protesters were arrested for resisting officers' orders after police moved in shortly after 1 a.m. to clear an estimated 200 inhabitants and their belongings from the area.
Throngs of sanitation workers then moved in to clean the park of debris …
Many protesters were said to leave park peacefully as police moved in overnight, but NY1's Lindsey Christ reported at around 3 a.m. that there were screams from protesters as police with sticks tried to move them out of the area.
Several protesters were arrested after they chained themselves together to keep police from removing them. There were also reports of isolated injuries.
Police helicopters were also on the scene, and authorities confiscated tents and other overnight gear from some occupiers, with instructions that they could claim their belongings later in the day at the Department of Sanitation.
As police closed the park, scores of protesters marched ten blocks north toward Foley Square, singing "We Shall Overcome." Other protesters swelled their ranks, and by 7 a.m. several hundred protesters had gathered there to plot their next move.
This situation is still unfolding, and we'll provide more details as they are available. Whatever happens, it's clear that at this point the Occupy Wall Street movement is much bigger now than its origins in Zuccotti Park, with offshoots in cities and countries around the world. This move will not silence the movement.
Check out our slideshow below from the Occupy Wall Street movement in the nation's capital, as well as our video interviews with some of the black protesters.
In other news: Sandusky Says He Regrets Showering With Kids.
Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.