Since the city agreed to divert up to a billion dollars in NYPD funding Tuesday, the #OccupyCityHall protest has waned at City Hall Park — yet some protesters are sticking around, insisting that they are “prepared for war” if they’re told to leave.
Participants in the continuing #OccupyCityHall sleep-in at City Hall on Centre Street are now preparing for an anticipated clash with police as an exit strategy similar to that of the Occupy Wall Street encampment in 2011.
At that time, the protestors who took up residence in Zuccotti Park on Broadway and Liberty Street at that time were there for more than two months before being removed in a violent clash.
But at City Hall, up to 200 protesters have been training on site to fight police and resist their anticipated clearing of the area and their makeshift living quarters. They’ve engaged in self-defense training, and some of them have made plywood shields and other makeshift weapons if the NYPD or others try to make a move on the camp.
Many of the protestors from various groups who had been occupying the space next to the Tweed Court House were prepared to stay if a billion dollars wasn’t defunded from the NYPD. Some of those protestors now say they will stay because they are not satisfied with the defunding nor continuing policy changes that had been demanded.
One of those changes included the disbanding of the NYPD and elimination of school safety officers from schools, a demand that few legislators were willing to entertain.
The continued occupation followed weeks of marches through the city after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.
Protestors have also taken to demanding members of the media not take any photos or video of them. These demands have led to clashes with the media including several assaults on photographers including news media from WPIX, Reuters, ABC7, and amNewYork Metro.
Other photographers have had equipment damaged by protestors who demanded they stop taking photos in the public space they have appropriated as their own, media members say.
One such attack was caught on video against an ABC cameraman.
Two protesters approached this reporter Thursday afternoon demanding that we take no further pictures. But the protesters walked away after it was explained that it was a public space, there was no reasonable expectation of privacy and that the First Amendment applies to both their protest as well as the press covering it.
Earlier in the week, protestors were using self-appointed security people to screen anyone entering their “private zone,” in the public plaza. Many protesters claim that photos of them “puts their lives at risk,” from police and others friendly to them, this despite police surveillance camera photographing them since they arrived.
Meanwhile, police have been surveying the site and are awaiting orders from Mayor Bill de Blasio as to what to do with the protestors at this time. A plan has been devised for dealing with the protestors after two clashes this week, in which several protestors were arrested.
City officials are becoming impatient with some of the protestors who are vandalizing the nearby Surrogate Court House and Municipal building, as well as the square itself.
“When the mayor says to go, we will go, but not right now,” one commander said.