Wall Street occupiers were back at their former Zuccotti Park stomping grounds Wednesday after a nearly two-month eviction, with protesters vowing they would use their return to elevate their movement.
The band of protesters hadn't been far from the park Tuesday night when they got an alert that the NYPD had taken down the barricades that had blockaded the park for weeks, along with a security checkpoint to enforce park rules, resulting in a dwindling of full-time occupiers.
The barricades' removal came a day after civil-rights groups shot off a letter to the city arguing their presence was illegal and demanding they be removed.
Occupy Wall Street spokeswoman Kanene Holder acknowledged that with the barricades up, Zuccotti Park "was no longer palpable; it was no longer a vehicle for change."
"We're definitely going to use this as a catalyst to redouble our issues," Holder said.
About 20 protesters spent Tuesday night in Zuccotti Park, though three were arrested for lying down, violating a policy that has been enforced since the protesters' Nov. 15 eviction. Police and security also prevented protesters from erecting tents.
"It was pretty awesome coming back here," said protester Zack Zimmerman, 22, who stayed overnight. "People were rejoicing."
The demonstrators plan to join Transport Workers Union members Thursday at a rally outside MTA headquarters. The workers' contract expires at the end of the week, and the cash-strapped transit agency says it can't afford any increases in pay.