Occupy Wall Street protesters get their own potties

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Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in Lower Manhattan have finally landed something they’ve badly needed: portable toilets.

For seven weeks, the occupiers of Zuccotti Park -- a block from Wall Street -- were mostly relying on fast-food restaurants and the kindness of other establishments to do their personal business. But neighbors complained to public officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, that demonstrators were also urinating and defecating outdoors.


The group’s websiteannounced Friday afternoon that Occupy Wall Street “is providing access to porta-potties in a private, well-lit space with 24-hour security, only 2 blocks away from the square.” The announcement said the portable toilets would be “maintained by a professional service” and that volunteers would be blanketing the park with fliers directing people to the facilities.

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After describing other ways the group has tried to respond to complaints about its activities in the area, including constant drumming, the announcement said: ‘We will continue to work hard to improve the quality of life at and around Zuccotti Park, as we continue pursuing our larger purpose of improving the quality of life for all.’

The portable toilets are located on a loading dock of the United Teachers Federation building that the protesters have been using to store supplies donated from around the country.

Although singer Bette Midler had offered last week to pay for toilets, the city turned down the group’s permit request to put them in the park. The protesters have been camping there since Sept. 17.

In a joint statement, several local politicians, including U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), who have been under pressure to do something about the uncivilized public behavior, praised the protesters, saying, “We appreciate their attention to this issue.”

The statement also noted, “The fact that both the City and OWS are making progress in addressing serious quality-of-life issues signals that there is a path for solving these and other emerging concerns.’


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-- Geraldine Baum