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Defying park rules, Occupy Wall Street protesters buying more tents

Tents at Zuccotti Park

Tents at Zuccotti Park Credit: Getty Images

The Occupy Wall Street protesters are betting nearly $20,000 that they’ll be able to hold fort at Zuccotti Park through the winter.

The demonstrators approved a motion this past weekend to spend $19,200 to buy and erect 20 large tents, in defiance of park rules.

Although dozens of individual tents have popped up around the park in recent weeks, protester spokesman Jeff Smith said the larger tents would save space, keep more people warm as the weather turns colder and make protesters feel safer. On Friday, a tent was erected for women only in hopes of protecting them from sexual assaults.

“We don’t want anything bad or unsavory happening behind closed doors,” Smith said. “A communal space is obviously safer.”

Tents and camping are prohibited by Brookfield Office Properties, the company that owns the park, and although Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said they planned to step up enforcement of the rules, little has been done to stop protesters from putting them up.

The city and the park’s owners would not comment on what they would do when the bigger 20-by-20 and 16-by-16-foot tents arrive.

“It’s a private park, so if they want to enforce their rules, they would have to talk to us about it,” a police spokesman said, referring to Brookfield.

In an email, a Bloomberg spokesman echoed the NYPD response, saying, “Not our rule. A question for the property owner.”

A spokeswoman for Brookfield declined to comment.

Cops met resistance as they attempted to remove a medical tent last month from protesters and Jesse Jackson, who happened to be visiting. After police backed down, a second medical tent was erected, and more smaller tents and tarps have been installed every day. Hundreds have been donated since the protests began in September.

Other Occupy Wall Street developments from over the weekend:
— Twenty protesters were arrested Saturday near Foley Square, police said, including three for assaulting an officer.

— Protesters from Washington Heights are planning an 11.5-mile march Monday morning from 181st Street and St. Nicholas Avenue down Broadway to Zuccotti Park.

— Protesters are reportedly planning a day-long occupation of Central Park on Nov. 11.

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