Drum Circle Forms Near Mayor's Town House
Dozens Hold Noisy Protest Near NYC Mayor's Home
Protesters had hoped to drum in front of the billionaire mayor's Upper East Side residence but police directed them to a pen nearby on the Central Park side of Fifth Avenue. Some passers-by said they supported the protests against economic disparities that began in Manhattan two months ago and have spread to cities throughout the country. "I'm all for it," said Monica Strauss, who lives in the neighborhood. "I hope they develop a program that's a little more coherent but I think it's a start."
In a bit of street theater, a woman pretending to be a Bloomberg staff member declared: "You have put the mayor under siege ... You have reduced the mayor to acting like some sort of medieval warlord." Protesters who believed that she did work for the mayor shouted: "Shame on Bloomberg."
Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser said protests outside the mayor's home are "nothing new." He added, "We work hard to guarantee that anyone can express their views in any area of the city, as long as they do it legally and do not infringe on the rights of others." Loeser would not say where Bloomberg was Sunday. The mayor often leaves town on the weekends and does not disclose his whereabouts.
More than 200 people were arrested when police cleared out Zuccotti Park on Tuesday and in protests later that day. Protesters' belongings including clothing, sleeping bags and electronic gear were taken to a city garage. Protesters have said that some of their property was thrown away.
State Sen. Eric Adams and civil rights lawyer Normal Siegel held a news conference at Zuccotti Park on Sunday to criticize the confiscation of protesters' property and the arrests of journalists. "No city agency has the authority to remove property from citizens without giving them receipts," said Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat and a retired police captain. Adams said he would write a letter of protest to Bloomberg and would call for City Council hearings.
Loeser said in an email that the property "wasn't seized — it was left behind in a public space." He added, "Protesters had 45 minutes of warning to remove their belongings and many did. Though such property is usually simply disposed of, the city has gone far out of its way to help people claim the property they left in Zuccotti Park." He said more than 500 items have been returned to people so far.
NYPD cops block Occupy Wall Street protesters from drumming outside Mayor Bloomberg's townhouse
City Hall officials would not say if the billionaire mayor was home to hear the commotion. They shutdown of E. 79th street was standard during past protests of the mayor’s house. “A Fifth Avenue setup is typically used for protests like this, and long has been,” said spokesman Stu Loeser. Protesters whose encampment at Zuccotti Park was demolished last week vowed to keep up the drumming for 24 hours — until 2 p.m. Monday.
“Bloomberg made a big mistake kicking the protesters out - now they’re everywhere,” said Marian Swerdlow, 62, who lives on the upper East Side and teaches in south Brooklyn. “It’s going to keep spreading. He'll see that this movement has support," she said. "He has to start treating people with respect." She carried a sign bearing three names: Mubarak, Ghadafi, Bloomberg. The first two, notorious dictators toppled this year, were crossed out.
There was a festive atmosphere with dancing and singing. Brett Massimi, eight months old, sat in a stroller playing maracas with her mom, Valerie Massimi, 44, an English teacher from Fort Greene, Brooklyn. "She gives a good energy to the protests," said the dancing motm. "She wants her social security.” Of the mayor, she said, “he was complaining that we were bothering people downtown. So let's bother him up here.”
People trying to get to meetings on the block weren’t happy. “It's noisy. It's silly. The mayor's probably either in South Hampton or Bermuda. You're torturing all these people here and it makes no sense,” said David Gordon, 62, a college professor from Queens. Ellen Epstein, a retiree from Midtown who was also trying to get to a meeting, called the protest ridiculous. “They're all insane. They belong in Bellevue,” she said. “The mayor wouldn't even be able to hear it. The whole thing is a joke.”
Erika Hughes, an octogenarian who lives on the block, said she backed the protesters and hoped they found some focus. “They should get their act together and find one or two main issues,” she said. And the noise? “It doesn't bother me. There's always noise on Fifth Ave. We have parades every other Sunday,” Hughes said.
Meanwhile, the most indelible photos of Thursday’s mass protests - taken not in Manhattan but at the campus of UC Davis - resulted in the suspension of two cops after the casual pepper-spraying of protesters seated on the sidewalk.
At first, the university administration defended the action, saying the police were under threat. Campus police chief Annette Spicuzza claimed “students had encircled the officers” and “they were unable to exit.” But a video and numerous photos of the incident showed campus cop were not surrounded and that Lt. John Pike walked calmly back and forth, deliberately spraying the faces of students sitting passively blocking a walkway. Two were hospitalized.
Amid growing calls for her resignation, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi called the images “chilling to us all” and said she would form a task force to investigate and deliver results in February. On Sunday, two unnamed campus cops were placed on admininstrative leave, the college said. Last month, NYPD Deputy Inspector Antony Bologna was docked 10 days vacation after he was filmed pepper-spraying two penned women without provocation.
The UC Davis students plan a much larger new protest Monday. “As the spotlight of the world rests upon our campus, we, the students, have an opportunity to assemble and showcase the moral strength and power of peaceful protest, especially in the face of overwhelming and violent oppression,” Occupy Davis said in a statement.
Occupy Wall Street takes drum circle to Bloomberg's doorstep
Police blocked off the sidewalks on Bloomberg's street and corralled the demonstrators on Fifth Avenue between 78th and 79th streets, kettling them into a pen where they were drumming and dancing. As of press time, the scene was generally peaceful and without incident. A police spokesman said they had no plans to make the protesters leave. Jeff Smith, a press liaison for the protesters, called the rally retaliation for an early-morning raid by cops on Zuccotti Park last Wednesday, saying, "Bloomberg is the one calling the shots. ... We want to return the favor.
"He is the personification of what this protest is about," Smith added. "He is a self-funded plutocrat who took his third term against the will of the people and runs the city for the benefit of himself and his rich friends on Wall Street." It was unclear if Bloomberg was home at the time. His only public appearance Sunday was at a 7:30 p.m. news conference at City Hall. "Protests outside the Mayor's home are nothing new," Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser said in an email. "We work hard to guarantee that anyone can express their views in any area of the city, as long as they do it legally and do not infringe on the rights of others."
Dan Taylor, a carpenter who lives in nearby Yorkville who was at Sunday's protest, acknowledged Bloomberg "is in a tough spot" dealing with the demonstrators. "He's part of Wall Street himself," Taylor, 60, said. "The demonstration is against him as much as anyone else."
Meanwhile, two protesters were arrested at Zuccotti Park Sunday, police said. Noel Campbell, 52, allegedly threw an unidentified liquid in a police officer's face. The officer was treated at the scene and was not injured. Another protester, who police identified as Star Bunn, was charged with trespassing and resisting arrest for trying to bring a sleeping bag into the park, despite rules that prohibit them.
Loudly Protesting Park Eviction, If Not Outside Mayor's Window As Planned
The police not only kept the drummers away; they also restricted access to all except those who lived on Mr. Bloomberg’s block. Norman Siegel, a civil liberties lawyer, said that the decision to bar protesters from Mr. Bloomberg’s block was contrary to the law, which allows people to walk on a block as long as they do not block entrances, exits or other pedestrians. “In effect, the police have created a no-First Amendment zone on 79th Street,” he said. “It’s an example of an abuse of power by the N.Y.P.D. because that’s a public street, and the fact that Michael Bloomberg lives on that street doesn’t change the principles and values of the First Amendment right to protest.”
The drummers then set up behind barricades on Fifth Avenue near Central Park, about half a block down from the mayor’s town house. By 4:30 p.m., the crowd on Fifth Avenue, banging iron skillets and shaking rattles, had swelled to about 300. It was unclear if the mayor was home; two spokesmen for the mayor declined to say whether he heard the drums.
Some passers-by, finding their way onto 79th Street blocked, seemed inclined not to blame the city for the closed-off street, instead focusing their irritation on the drummers. But Dana Johnson, a 33-year-old lawyer from the Upper East Side, said she supported the rights of people to hold a demonstration even if she did not agree with all of their political aims. “This is part of democracy,” she said. “Go bother your leader.”
On Oct. 11, Occupy Wall Street protesters had gone on a “Millionaires March,” visiting homes of Rupert Murdoch, Jamie Dimon and David H. Koch — but bypassing Mr. Bloomberg’s residence. On Sunday, less than a week after the city forced protesters out of Zuccotti Park, the mayor’s home was singled out by the group.
The protest was in response, participants say, to the city’s move on Tuesday morning to clear the protesters’ tent city at Zuccotti Park, which had been the base of the Occupy Wall Street movement for nearly two months. While clearing the park, the Police Department arrested some 140 people in the park, and the Department of Sanitation seized tents, sleeping bags and other property.
While protesters have since been allowed in the park, they are no longer allowed to sleep overnight or set up an encampment. On Saturday, for instance, a woman was arrested for bringing a blanket into the park after being warned by private security guards, the police said. But the protesters are still smarting over the enforcement action last week. Some of those gathered on Fifth Avenue had brought with them items that they said were badly damaged after being seized by the police at Zuccotti Park on Tuesday morning.
Sean Allingham, 30, a landscaper, showed a laptop and a Kindle e-reader that had both belonged to a library collective, of which he is a member. Both machines were bent and warped, with the cases cracked open and the innards of the machines visible. Some protesters said that hard drives had been removed from computers.
For the last few days, protesters have been retrieving the seized property from a Sanitation Department garage. So far 44 protesters have reclaimed 505 items, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, Stu Loeser, said in an e-mail. Mr. Loeser characterized the property as having been “abandoned in Zuccotti Park” by the protesters.
In a letter addressed to Mr. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly on Sunday, Mr. Siegel and State Senator Eric Adams made several criticisms of the city’s conduct while clearing Zuccotti Park. The letter particularly takes issue with the decision to move into the park at about 1 a.m., a time when the city slept and few would be able to witness the conduct of the police officers. “It’s like they thought there was a life-threatening emergency here,” Mr. Siegel said at a news conference. “There wasn’t. It could have been handled differently.”
At East 79th Street and Fifth Avenue, protesters once again took issue with the police’s dictating where they could protest. Nonetheless, they felt that they were making their presence known. “He sent the N.Y.P.D. to visit us the other day at 1 a.m., so now we are visiting him,” Aaron Black, 38, said of the mayor. Mr. Black, a photographer who helped organize the event, added that he wanted to open a dialogue with the mayor. “If he’s in town, he should come downstairs and talk with us.”
Raucaus protesters occupy street near Mayor Bloomberg's New York home with noisy drum circle as police arrest more activists at the park
- 11 arrested in Washington after breaking into abandoned building
- Drum circle stopped from standing in front of mayor's house and must stay a block away
District of Columbia police on Saturday evening arrested 11 protesters and planned to charge them with unlawful entry after officers entered and cleared an abandoned city-owned building that had been occupied by a group inspired by Occupy D.C. Supporters of the protesters cheered as officers led demonstrators from the downtown Washington building in handcuffs and into two police vans.
The group Free Franklin began occupying the four-story Franklin School on Saturday, protesting the lack of housing for homeless people. The historic building served as a homeless shelter until 2008. Participants with handkerchiefs over their faces lowered a banner from the roof that said "Public Property under Community Control." More than 60 supporters gathered in a park near the red-brick building and cheered the protesters. The building is two blocks from Occupy D.C.'s encampment.
"We did a sweep of the building and they were all on the roof," said Cannon, whose agency protects D.C. government-owned, -leased and -managed facilities and property. The chief said the building is now boarded-up and welded shut, and police are investigating how the protesters gained entry. He said the building has been vacant since 2008. Cannon said his agency was called to the scene at about 3 p.m. and had cleared the building by 7 p.m., with help from dozens of officers from the Metropolitan Police and U.S. Park Police
Following the arrests, more than 50 protesters remained in the middle of 13th Street, NW, which was blocked off by dozens of police cars. Some chanted, "Our children's future is not for sale." More officers arrived at the scene, but the crowd began to break up after the building had been cleared and the arrested protesters taken away.
Wall Street Protesters Plan 24-Hour Drum Circle in Front of Mayor Bloomberg's House
The "Occupy Bloomberg's Mansion Drum Circle Protest And Love-In Art Show" began Sunday at 2 p.m and plans to continue through Monday. A Facebook event page set up by the group asked protesters to bring drums and other musical instruments as well as food, sleeping bags, banners, art and art supplies. "Let's occupy the park at 79th Street and have a love-in and serenade Mayor Mike," the page says.
Organizer John Penley said protesters want to get as close to Bloomberg's house as the police let them. Authorities have them penned in on the side of Fifth Avenue closest to Central Park. Zuccotti Park was cleared early Tuesday morning after a surprise sweep led by the mayor, who said the decision to clear the park was "mine, and mine alone." Copyright Associated Press
UPDATE: 24-Hour OWS Drum Circle at Mayor Bloomberg's House Begins at 2 P.M.
After Monday's eviction, drummers as well as other musicians have attempted to bring their instruments into Zuccotti Park to mixed results, with some being kicked out for having accordions while others are allowed by Brookfield to lug their drums in. The rules themselves don't prohibit music but state that the park is for "passive recreation."
Today though, none of that matters: the First Amendment applies on the Upper East Side. Although it's conceivable that the mayor may not even be in the country right now, let's picture him painting dollhouse furniture, or playing Jenga, or making a friendship necklace for Ray Kelly—and at 1:59 p.m. he's juuuust about to thread the final, tiny bead on in peace and quiet.
[UPDATE / 12:47 p.m.] @Newyorkist tweets, "Police massing, on 5th Ave at 79th Street, near Bloomberg's mansion" and posts the following photo. Will there be more cops than drummers? And who will be the first NYPD officer to play the cowbell?