NEW YORK - (AP) - The cleanup of a plaza in lower Manhattan whereprotesters have been camped out for a month was postponed earlyFriday, sending cheers up from a crowd that had feared the effortwas merely a pretext to evict them.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said the owners of the private park,Brookfield Office Properties, had put off the cleaning, scheduledfor 7 a.m. More than hour beforehand, supporters of the protestershad started streaming into the park, creating a crowd of severalhundred chanting people.
A confrontation between police and protesters, who had vowed tostay put through civil disobedience, had been feared. Boisterouscheers floated up from the crowds as the announcement of thepostponement circulated, and protesters began polling each other onwhether to make an immediate march to Wall Street, a few blocksaway.
"Late last night, we received notice from the owners ofZuccotti Park - Brookfield Properties - that they are postponingtheir scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time beingwithdrawing their request from earlier in the week for policeassistance during their cleaning operation," the deputy mayor'sstatement said.
Brookfield believes it can work out an arrangement with theprotesters that "will ensure the park remains clean, safe,available for public use," it said.
Brookfield, a publicly traded real estate firm, had planned topower-wash the plaza section by section over 12 hours and allow theprotesters back - but without much of the equipment they needed tosleep and camp there. The company called the conditions at the parkunsanitary and unsafe.
In a last-ditch bid to stay, protesters had mopped and picked upgarbage. While moving out mattresses and camping supplies,organizers were mixed on how they would respond when policearrived.
Some protesters said they would resist; others planned tocooperate but engage in nonviolent civil disobedience if they arenot allowed back in the park.
Some 600 to 700 protesters gathered in early morning darkness.Many had not slept and were busy cleaning while a light rain fell.The group's sanitation team had hired a private garbage truck topick up discarded curbside garbage.