Claiming safety concerns, city confiscates gas canisters and generators from Zuccotti Park
The city has stripped Occupy Wall Street protesters of their power.
Dozens of firefighters and police officers entered Zuccotti Park Friday morning to confiscate generators and gas canisters.
Fire trucks and police vans pulled up on the corner of Broadway and Liberty St. at about 8:30 a.m. and asked the encamped demonstrators to bring the items to them, saying they were a health and fire hazard.
“They made an announcement on a bullhorn saying: ‘We are here to take the generators, could you please bring them up to us on the corner of Broadway and Liberty St.,'” protester James Bennett said.
When no one from Occupy Wall Street surrendered the generators, more than 30 uniformed FDNY and NYPD officials entered the park to seize them, witnesses and officials said.
“We did send 30 or 40 firefighters through the park, the police department had its community affairs department there to make sure everyone was safe,” Mayor Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show Friday.
“Our first two concerns are the First Amendment and safety, and this was about safety.”
The protesters say five generators were seized in total, including one which was biodiesel and ran on used vegetable oil.
The city says they removed six generators and about a dozen canisters of gasoline.
Occupy Wall Street say several of the canisters were empty, some were full of vegetable oil and one contained gasoline.
No arrests were made and the incident was peaceful.
Bloomberg said anyone who owns items can have them back, but they will no longer be permitted in the park as they pose a fire and safety hazard.
Brookfield Office Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park, have declined to comment on the tents that have been pitched throughout the plaza in the past week. Protesters have used them to stay warm.
“So far, Brookfield hasn’t complained to us and asked us to remove people, so that’s not a consideration,” Bloomberg said.
“Unless Brookfield wants us to enforce regulation they have a right to impose – no tents – they can stay there.”
“What will happen down the road?” he added.
“We’ll watch it very carefully. When you have a congregation of people pushed together, there’s always a danger of flashpoint.
“We want to make sure we have the resources there to right away step in and protect everyone’s life and property.”