The Zuccotti Park cleanup has been canceled, averting a confrontation between police and the Occupy Wall Street protesters who have made the Manhattan park their base for the past month and refuse to leave.
The cleaning of the park was supposed to begin Friday morning, but was called off by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office about 40 minutes before workers were to enter the park at 7 a.m., The New York Times reports.
Protesters had said they would defy the order to leave.
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“Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park — Brookfield Properties — that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation,” the Bloomberg administration said in a statement, according to the Washington Post.
"Our position has been consistent throughout: The City’s role is to protect public health and safety, to enforce the law, and guarantee the rights of all New Yorkers. Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown, and we will continue to monitor the situation."
Cheers erupted among demonstrators after hearing the cleanup had been called off, the Times reports.
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The Associated Press reports that the protesters had spent the night "scrubbing, mopping and picking up garbage" at the corporate-owned park they have occupied since September 17, hoping to avoid the scheduled cleanup by Brookfield Properties contractors, which they fear is an attempt too evict them.
Since starting out in lower Manhattan several weeks ago, the Occupy Wall Street protests have spread to a number of other cities in the United States.
On the occupywallst.org website, the group describes itself as a "leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%."