The Law of Occupation

RSS

Brookfield Office Properties and Mayor Bloomberg are Full of Garbage

UPDATE 11/15/12 5:30PM: Will have more analysis soon of today’s Order denying extension of Temporary Restraining Order enjoining City and Brookfield from changing rules.  Follow on tumblrtwitter, and/or the web.

Brookfield Office Properties, owner in name only of the “Publicly Owned Private Space” at Liberty Plaza Park (a/k/a Zuccotti Park), have conspired with the Bloomberg Administration to do an “end-run around Occupy Wall Street’s First Amendment right to peaceable assembly” according to Civil Rights attorney Samuel Cohen of the Law Offices of Wylie M. Stecklow.

Having failed to remove demonstrators from the Park on other attempted legal grounds— claimed prohibitions against tents, disorderly conduct, etc— Mayor Bloomberg is using the thin cover of alleged sanitation concerns to constructively evict the demonstrators and impose strict new regulations.  The plot started earlier this month with conservative media outlets describing the occupiers as ‘dirty' and 'unsanitary’, going so far as to report the mocking ‘mooning' of a police car as a public defecation and characterizing typical NYC curbside garbage as unusually massive trash heaps.  Having laid the public relations groundwork, Brookfield CEO Richard Clark sent a letter to NYPD Commissioner Kelly claiming unsanitary and unsafe conditions demand the Park be cleared.  Mayor Bloomberg, after erecting the political cover of allowing the protesters to stay indefinitely so long as they obey the law, jumped on Clark’s letter to claim his hand has been forced.  On Friday morning, the NYPD plan to clear the Park and enforce new rules drawn up by Brookfield which will make the survival of the demonstration more difficult.

The new rules, which Brookfield claims were in effect prior to the 9/17 start of the demonstration, but not enforced, prohibit tarps, sleeping bags, and sleeping among other behaviors essential to the demonstrators efforts to maintain a constant presence in the Park.

While some of the Occupiers, in conjunction with National Lawyer’s Guild, have argued for a cooperative effort to clean the Park (see letter below), they have failed to call the city on the issue that could cause bigger problems for the occupation than the cleaning— the absurdity of allowing Brookfield to create fiat rules for use of a Park that is properly controlled by the City.

The bigger legal obstacle for Brookfield and the City of New York is that the former has no standing to dictate any rules for use of the Park and the latter has no authority to obstruct 24-hour use of the space for political expression.  According to attorney Cohen, “use and jurisdiction” of the space was ceded to the city by United States Steel when it received permission from the city to build the skyscraper across the street now owned by Brookfield.  Accordingly, the governance of the public’s use is overseen by the NYC Department of CIty Planning and any rule change are subject to a public hearing process that requires a minimum 45 day review period.  No such rule change proposal seems to have been formally made to or acted on by the Department or Amanda Burden, the Director fo the Department of CIty Planning.

UPDATE 11/15/12 5:30PM: Will have more analysis soon of today’s Order denying extension of Temporary Restraining Order enjoining City and Brookfield from changing rules.  Follow on tumblrtwitter, and/or the web.