Once the Vikings finished embarrassing themselves at Lambeau last night, I was ready to get going with ESPN’s College Hoops TipOff, a 24 hour celebration of college basketball. I settled in with the first game of the night, Gonzaga-Washington State. The game ended up being close at the end, but by that time I was fully entrenched in the removal of the Occupy Wall Street camp in Zuccotti Park. I first saw this around 12:15AM:
I begin to follow up on this, looking for news surrounding the park. I got a few reports that the camp would close, and found a live stream from inside the park around 12:40. Sure enough, at 1AM, NYPD in riot gear surrounded the park, removed almost everyone, and removed EVERYTHING. Tents, personal belongings, makeshift offices….it was all tossed in dump trucks and trashed. The protesters were kept out overnight, and quickly took to other streets and plazas nearby to protest the actions. The police kept all media out of the park while the process was going on, but there were reports that police were using physical force, tear gas and mase to move people out of the park.
The most amazing part of this story has little to do with what the cops did. It was that live stream (www.livestream.com/occupynyc) that I hopped on. About 700 people were viewing at that time; by 1:30 there were about 15,000 viewers, about a half hour later, we were over 20,000. People from all over the world watched this feed and wrote their support to the user with the camera. I witnessed a lot of bad images of police pushing people around and destroying property, and it all happened very fast.
This morning, Mayor Bloomberg addressed the city, explaining that the owners of the park (Zuccotti is a privately owned park) asked the NYPD to remove protestors to allow them to clean the park. It was also announced that tents and tarps were no longer allowed in the park, as they violated park rules. At this hour, it appears that a court order, claiming that Occupiers must be allowed to have tents in the park, is keeping the park closed to 99%ers, but the Mayor has stated that protestors may return to the park upon its reopening.
The world is now reacting, most of them irrationally. There are people yelling about their first amendment rights, when they weren’t violated. The city was cleaning the park, not ending the protests. Occupiers are crying for help and solidarity, and are getting it. The thing is, they don’t need it. Their freedom isn’t being impeded; the park is just getting cleaned because it has become unsanitary.
Hopefully the park reopens soon, and the protestors will continue to protest for change in America; I believe these protests are great for the country, both as a conversation and a call to action. For now, though, I will continue to monitor the situation on Twitter and Livestream, and recommend you do too. You never know when you can participate and witness history as I did last night.
I will likely not be reviewing the second half of the College TipOff, but please enjoy it; you don’t get this much college hoops often.