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BY JOHN BAYLES | A rumor started spreading like wildfire through the estimated 4,000 people standing in Zuccotti Park around 6:25 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 14. But then one smartphone after another, confirmed the fact, via outlets such as twitter, facebook and CNN that there would be no cleaning, no “showdown,” no veiled attempt to evict the Occupy Wall Street protestors from the park at the anticipated “doomsday” hour of 7 a.m.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway released the following statement at 6:18 a.m. Friday morning.
“Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park — Brookfield Properties — that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation.” said Holloway.
“Our position has been consistent throughout: the city’s role is to protect public health and safety, to enforce the law, and guarantee the rights of all New Yorkers,” the statement continued. “Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use; and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown, and we will continue to monitor the situation.”
It didn’t take long before the tone within the park became a jovial one, complete with celebratory chants and music. But the word “postponing” did cause some to scratch their heads. Some thought the “postponing” was another possible ploy and are still bracing for a possible confrontation with the city and Brookfield.
Rob Miller, 38, who traveled from Los Angeles to Lower Manhattan four days earlier, said the announcement had the potential to “embolden” the movement and its members. But he knew better than to hang a “mission accomplished” from the trees.
“If [Brookfield and the city] are trying a stalling tactic, they’ll come to find out it’s still not going to work,” said Miller.
James Taylor, a member of the SEIU [Service Employees International Union] said the move was both a “stalling tactic and a political tactic.” He however did note that it was also the result of some people finally seeing the “humanity and civility” involved in the movement.
“It’s not just a bunch of college kids or drop-outs or drug addicts, or whatever some people are making this out to be,” said Taylor.
Asked if he would be leaving due to the announcement, Taylor smiled and said, “Oh no. We’ll be here all day long.”