NEW YORK (Reuters)—Officials in New York City averted a showdown with anti-Wall Street protesters on Friday when plans to clean up the park they have occupied for the past month were postponed.
Brookfield Office Properties, which manages the publicly accessible park, announced it would delay the cleaning that had been set for early Friday morning. Protesters, who had seen the plan to clean the park as a ploy to evict them, celebrated the decision.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his weekly radio address on Friday, said his office was not involved in the decision to postpone plans for the cleanup.
"My understanding is that Brookfield got lots of calls from many elected officials threatening them and saying, 'If you don't stop this, we'll make your life much more difficult,'" said Bloomberg, who added that he did not know which officials had called the company.
There were some arrests, but no widespread disruptions.
"This development has emboldened the movement and sent a clear message that the power of the people has prevailed against Wall Street," Occupy Wall Street said in a statement, estimating more than 3,000 people had gathered in the park.
New York police said they took 14 people into custody when several hundred protesters left the park to march south through the financial district and north toward City Hall. One particular incident that went viral on the web was of a protester who can be seen lying on his back screaming as an NYPD scooter rolls over his foot. In response to the incident, the NYPD released the following statement:
"Independent witnesses from the New York Daily News and the Associated Press both said they saw Ariel Douglas, a National Lawyer's Guild observer, intentionally place his legs under the scooter to make it look as though he had been run over. The Daily News reported that its photographer Joe Marino, who witnessed the confrontation, said "the bike definitely hit him" but the officer didn't run him over. "I saw him sticking his legs under the bike to make it appear he was run over," Marino said of the lawyer. Douglas had repeatedly disregarded lawful orders to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk, and then feigned being run over before kicking over the police scooter. He was arrested for criminal mischief, obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest."
Protesters are upset that the billions of dollars in U.S. bank bailouts doled out during the recession allowed banks to resume earning huge profits while average Americans got scant relief from high unemployment and job insecurity.
They also argue that the richest 1 percent of Americans do not pay their fair share in taxes.
Many protesters feared the cleaning would be an attempt to shut down the movement that has sparked solidarity protests in other cities. There were plans for global rallies on Saturday in 71 countries, according to Occupy Together and United for Global Change.