The New York Police Department cleared “Occupy City Hall” protesters early Wednesday morning, removing them from their encampment.
Protesters were given a 10-minute warning before their removal, the NYPD’s chief of support services, Raymond Spinella, told reporters.
About 700 police officers in riot gear removed the protesters at around 3:40 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The police were accompanied by attorneys and video cameras to document their actions and provide a level of transparency.
Spinella said the operation “went smoothly.”
“The police department has closely monitored the situation at the park since its inception,” he said, according to WCBS-TV.
“We felt the time had come to end the occupation and allow cleanup crews to begin the process of removing the graffiti.”
Seven people were arrested in the removal, including someone who threw a brick at an officer.
However, some people who were at the camp said the removal was not peaceful.
“We did not get a warning,” Yessenia Benitez told WCBS reporter John Dias.
“They came in through the back and started to throw tables, started to rip into tents where people, children, sleep there, families sleep there.”
WARNING: The following video contains vulgar language that some viewers may find offensive.
Protesters had been illegally camped outside New York City Hall for the past month to put pressure on the city council to cut the NYPD’s funding.
The graffiti on a nearby courthouse and other landmarks could take weeks to clean up, The New York Times reported.
“The graffiti is just another manifestation of the city in decline,” Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio added that the decision to shut down the camp was made Tuesday night for “health and safety.”
“What we saw change over the last few weeks was the gathering there got smaller and smaller, was less and less about protest and more and more of an area where homeless folks were gathering,” he said.
De Blasio told reporters the Department of Homeless Service was also on scene.
“There’s been regular efforts by Homeless Services to engage folks who are there. They’ve been out there again today,” he said.
“We want to make sure that as many people as possible will accept the shelter we have for them, hopefully turn their life around and not go back to the streets.”
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