Tent ban upheld, Occupy protesters return to park without them

NEW YORK - (AP) - Crackdowns against the Occupy Wall Streetencampments across the country reached the epicenter of themovement Tuesday, when police rousted protesters from a Manhattanpark and a judge ruled that their free speech rights do not extendto pitching a tent and setting up camp for months at a time. It was a potentially devastating setback. If crowds ofdemonstrators return to Zuccotti Park, they will not be allowed tobring tents, sleeping bags and other equipment that turned the areainto a makeshift city of dissent.But demonstrators pledged to carry on with their messageprotesting corporate greed and economic inequality, either inZuccotti or a yet-to-be chosen new home.State Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman upheld the city'seviction of the protesters after an emergency appeal by theNational Lawyers Guild.The protesters have been camped out in the privately owned parksince mid-September. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he ordered thesweep because health and safety conditions had become"intolerable" in the crowded plaza. The raid was conducted in the middle of the night "to reduce the risk of confrontation" and"to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood," Bloombergsaid.Protesters were allowed back into lower Manhattan's ZuccottiPark two by two Tuesday evening. They each could take only a smallbag. No sleeping bags or tents were allowed.Bloomberg says the park will stay open to all aslong as the protesters abide by its rules.Protesters say they are dismayed by the ruling and worry what the futurewill hold for the anti-Wall Street movement.

To watch Mayor Michael Bloomberg's press conference on the overnight sweep at Zuccotti Park and Chopper 12 footage of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, go to iO Channel 612 and select 'iO Extra.'

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