NEW YORK — Hundreds of police officers in riot gear raided the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York City in the pre-dawn darkness Tuesday, evicted hundreds of protesters and then demolished the tent city, leaving the future of the demonstration in limbo.
Later in the day, a New York judge upheld the city’s crackdown. Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman said in his ruling that the protesters “have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators and other installations to the exclusion of the owner’s reasonable rights … or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely.”
The plaza, near the financial district ground zero, is open to the public, but is privately owned.
Lawyers representing the protesters had sought an order that would let them resume camping in the park. They said after the decision that they hadn’t decided whether to appeal.
The police action began around 1 a.m. and lasted several hours as officers with batons and plastic shields pushed the protesters from their base at Zuccotti Park, arresting hundreds who resisted or didn’t leave the area.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the goal was to rid the plaza of tents, tables, and other vestiges of a semi-permanent campsite, saying it had become unsanitary and unsafe.
Associated Press writers Meghan Barr, Chris Hawley, Samantha Gross and Karen Matthews contributed to this report.