The Manhattan borough president said on Thursday morning that graffiti vandalism to some of the buildings surrounding the current #OccupyCityHall sleep-in might cost the city millions to remove when the demonstrations subside.
The vandalism has many privately blaming the mayor for allowing the damage to occur and for continuing to allow the demonstrators to remain at the site – many of whom are now just homeless who have settled at City Hall where there is free food and makeshift shelters.
Police had been given the order to have a “soft touch” with protesters during the numerous marches but were eventually able to bring looting and vandalism of stores under control, especially in SOHO where many stores were burglarized and heavily damaged.
However, that same approach seemed to apply to #OccupyCityHall who’s ground has been decorated with paintings and slogans for the black lives matter movement, along with other movements seeking free rent, advocacy for homelessness, school overhaul and anti-police slogans.
Those slogans were taken across the street where many buildings were hit by graffiti. Some of those include the Municipal Building, the Department of Education housed in the former Tweed Courthouse and the gothic Surrogate Court Building.
Brewer said that while the granite might be able to be cleaned, she said the marble portions of the buildings would be much more difficult because of the paint seeped into the materials causing more permanent damage that might be very expensive to repair.
Brewer also said she realized the crowd was much different from the start – a large number of homeless had taken refuge there, requiring a different kind of response from mental health professionals and homeless outreach officials.
Many elected officials have not even walked through the #occupycityhall, many staffers admitting they “were afraid.”
The current occupation of the city hall space has come down to a mere few hundred people, many having created make-shift tents, dragged over old furniture and mattresses and continue to harass members of the media, some of whom have been assaulted and even robbed of equipment. Some of those now living there are using buckets as toilets as bathrooms are several blocks away.
Some demonstrators were also being trained in self-defense and how to fight the police.
On Tuesday, protesters were fighting among themselves, nearly coming to blows as some tried to intervene. Young women taking bicycles from the Citibike rack were accosted by a man sitting on the ground in front of the bike rack.
Yesterday, contractors for the MTA doing work in the Chambers Street station next to the occupied area, said someone broke into the work area and stole $20,000 worth of tools and copper cable.
One US Marshal guarding the Federal Courthouse nearby, expressed pride that their building wasn’t touched. As for the other buildings, “don’t even get me started.”
Most elected officials haven’t even been there, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams vowed to “take a look.” Council Speaker Corey Johnson had no comment on it and most council members have not been there as the Council has not met in a live session.
One ranking police officer, joined by other top cops said, “when the mayor tells us to go, we will go in. But for now, we are just waiting for the word.”
The mayor’s office did not respond for comment on the damage to the buildings or indicate when the city might clean out the area.