The park’s owner put off a planned cleaning after the media spotlight centered on a potential conflict
Updated 1:20 p.m. ET
The anticipated conflict between Occupy Wall Street protesters and city officials happened after all on Friday as NYPD officers arrested at least 14 individuals, leaving a few battered and bruised.
Many expected a confrontation early in the morning because Brookfield Properties, which owns the park the protesters' have made their headquarters, planned on cleaning it. That meant the activists needed to evacuate for the day, which many felt was just an excuse to remove them permanently.
Instead, Brookfield decided to postpone its cleaning, at which point protesters poured into the streets of lower Manhattan.
It is unclear how disruptive the marches were, but videos and photos have cropped up of injured civilians. One police officer ran over a man's leg with his scooter while another man was punched in the face.
Here's a video of one incident courtesy of the New York Times:
This impromptu march must have been part exuberance, part media spectacle. The movement first registered on the national consciousness through a combination of celebrity endorsements and mass arrests.
Also on Friday, police officers in Denver arrested 23 protesters for unlawful conduct on public land, and, in one case, jaywalking. The Denver occupation has been going on for about three weeks.
Those gearing up for another confrontation between the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the NYPD will be sorely disappointed: The real estate company that owns Zuccotti Park, where the protests began, decided Friday morning to put off its planned cleaning of the square.
Members of Occupy Wall Street had vowed to stay in the park during the cleaning because they feared it was merely a ploy to evict them. That caused many in the media to speculate about what might happen, especially in light of the first major conflict between the two parties on the Brooklyn Bridge.
In that case, the NYPD arrested around 700 protesters, giving the movement a significant dose of media attention and spurring copycat demonstrations around the country.
Celebrity backer Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records, provided hourly support leading up to the Friday morning deadline on Twitter, including tweets at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and even one quoting Gandhi.
“Dear @MikeBloomberg – I will pay for clean-up of Zuccotti Park to avoid confrontation. I don't wanna go to jail but I will be there ready!,” Simmons tweeted. He also suggested Bloomberg was attempting a ruse and announced he was ready to be arrested.
That proved unnecessary.
“Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park — Brookfield Properties — that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation,” Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement.
Bloomberg's office said Brookfield planned to clean the park throughout the day and then allow the protestors back, only without much of their camping equipment.
Upon hearing the news, the Occupy Wall Street Twitter feed erupted in jubilation, tweeting “People power triumphs! Brookfield declares indefinitely postponed cleaning! #wewon #Ows #usdor.”
Those members of the media who crowded down into Zuccotti Park expecting magic, such as MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, were left wanting.
Maddow appears to have made her first foray into the Occupy Wall Street scene, live-tweeting from her arrival at 6:25 a.m.
“At #OWS there are tight crowds on Bway & around TV crews taking up lots of space, but otherwise it's happy, busy, clean, pleasant,” she wrote.
Happy it will remain – for now. Clean? That may be another story.
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