Occupy Wall Street Sunday night was potentially heading for a new showdown with the NYPD, with protesters deciding whether to stay in Washington Square Park past its midnight closing time, an action that could lead to arrests.
The movement has been based in the Financial District's Zuccotti Park for exactly one month today, but rumblings of setting up a second camp have been buzzing for at least a week.
Protesters at press time were meeting in Washington Square Park to decide whether to begin an occupation in the city-owned park, while also discussing the movement’s future direction and approach.
Anup Desai, a member of the movement’s press team and a professor of philosophy at Borough of Manhattan Community College, said yesterday that protesters were ready to set up camp and were prepared for arrests.
"Of course, people are always willing to get arrested. That risk is involved in any civil disobedience movement," he said.
The potential expansion is driven in part by Zuccotti’s small size; Desai said an estimated 1,000 additional people would like to camp out but can’t.
Mark Taylor, vice president of the New York chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, has provided legal counsel for the protesters, and there’s no wiggle room in the law concerning public parks in the city.
"I don't know any way around the park's regulation," he said. "I would hope that the police might exercise discretion ... they're certainly on a different legal basis than they are at Zuccotti Park," which is privately owned.
Police yesterday would only say park rules would be enforced if occupiers stayed past midnight.
Desai said he estimates that at least 1,000 people have been arrested in New York City since the occupation began.
Occupy Wall Street is coming off a huge demonstration in Times Square Saturday night in which thousands of protesters occupied entire blocks for a few hours. The NYPD told amNewYork that 92 people were arrested.
The NYPD, an unavoidable presence at every march and demonstration, is said to have spent about $3.4 million in overtime to police the protesters since they began occupying Zuccotti on Sept. 17, according to NY1.
In that month, Occupy Wall Street has raised almost $300, 000, according to the AP.
Occupy Wall Street reached cities nationwide and countries across the globe in its biggest weekend yet. Some developments:
- Brookfield Properties, which owns Zuccotti, backed down from its request to remove the protesters in order to clean the park, delaying it indefinitely.
- Thousands of people nationwide held protests in dozens of cities, with any resulting in arrests, including 175 in Chicago, 46 in Phoenix and at about two dozen in Denver.
- In Europe, tens of thousands of people calling themselves "the indignant" marched in solidarity in cities including London, Rome, Frankfurt and Paris.
Follow reporter Tim Herrera on Twitter: @tim_herrera.