New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes Occupy Wall Street protesters have a right to freedom of speech at a Manhattan park, but not to keep the owners of the public space from cleaning it.
Officials say Bloomberg visited with protesters Wednesday to tell them of plans to clean Zuccotti Park by the end of the week. Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement the protest has "created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park."
The park is owned by Brookfield Properties, which has asked the police commissioner for help from the NYPD to clear the park so it can be cleaned.
Holloway said the cleaning will be done in stages Friday. Protesters will have to leave, but will be allowed to return after it's cleaned.
The company told police that it had received “hundreds of phone calls and emails” from locals complaining about "lewdness, groping, drinking and drug use, the lack of safe access to and usage of the Park, ongoing noise at all hours, unsanitary conditions and offensive odors,” NBC New York reports.
Brookfield also raised concerns about shipments of “materials” to the park, which they say are unscreened, according to Fox News.
The park will be cleaned in stages, beginning Friday morning. Protesters will be allowed to return to their designated areas after cleaning is complete, NBC New York reports.
Brookfield normally cleans and inspects the condition of the park every night, including a power washing, landscaping and trash removal. But the company hasn't been able to do so since the protestors have sent up a tent city there as part of their demonstrations.
"Basic rules intended to keep the park safe, open, clean, and welcoming to all visitors are clearly posted," the statement from Brookfield reads. "These rules includes bans on the erection of tents or other structures, as well as the placement of tarps, sleeping bags, or other coverings on the property.
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