Police in riot gear moved in early Wednesday to clear a month-long encampment of protesters and homeless people from a park near New York’s City Hall.
A line of officers with helmets and shields entered City Hall Park shortly before 4am and forced the remaining people who were camped there out. At least seven people were arrested. Charges were pending.
The encampment in City Hall Park started forming last month following weeks of protests sparked by the May death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The Occupy City Hall protest was part of a national “defund the police” movement seeking to redirect funds from policing to community needs like housing and education.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, had resisted calls to move the protesters out of the park that adjoins the historic building where he works.
Asked about it on Tuesday, De Blasio cited “a balance we always strike between the right to protest and especially public safety”. He added, “That decision will be made by the NYPD as things emerge. We’re looking at the situation every day. But again, I think we look at the specific facts of what’s going on and then decisions will be made day by day.”
De Blasio said on Wednesday he would resist any effort by Donald Trump to send federal officers to New York as the president has done in Portland and has threatened to do in other cities. De Blasio said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that if Trump sends officers to the city, “We will be in court immediately and we will win.”