Despite colder weather, protesters vow to continue camping out
Mother Nature has tested the will of Occupy Wall Street protesters in recent days.
Between Wednesday’s downpour and Thursday’s winds, hundreds of protesters have gone to the park’s medical center to seek aid for colds and trench foot.
“We warm them up, give them a hot cup of tea, new socks and shoes,” said Ayman El-Sayed, 30, of Kensington, one of dozens of nurses and medics working around the clock at the park.
Medical volunteers said the two small tents erected in the past week to provide privacy and warmth won’t be enough. Temperatures over the next few days will drop to the high 40s, according to senior AccuWeather meteorologist Bob Smerbeck.
“We haven’t seen any severe cases — yet. We’re trying to prevent any of that,” said Maria Fehlig, a nurse from Las Vegas. “If they’re gonna stay out here, they’re gonna need shelter.”
Adding to the worries is that the demonstrators are running low on donated winter clothes — specifically large coats — said Kelly Connelly, 20, of Conway, Ark., who was working in the comfort station Thursday.
More than 250 people signed an online petition Thursday to ask Mayor Michael Bloomberg to allow the protesters to erect tents to keep warm.
A Bloomberg spokesman did not return messages to comment as of press time.
A spokeswoman for Brookfield Office Properties, which owns the park and has prohibited tents, also declined to say if they’d consider changing the rules forbidding the tents.
When asked if there was concern that it might get too cold for the protesters to safely continue camping out, Michael Premo, a press liaison for the protesters said, “It’s New York. We’ll see.”
“We’re in it for the long haul,” said Premo, 29, of Bedford-Stuyvesant.