"Time, place and manner" restrictions on speech like the demonstrators had petitioned against have a long history in American law, going back at least to the 1960s. It is unlikely that this ruling will be overturned on appeal, if it is appealed at all.
"At the end of the day, if this movement is only tied to Liberty Plaza, we are going to lose. We're going to lose," said Sandra Nurse, one of the organizers, referring to another name for the park. "Right now the most important thing is coming together as a body and just reaffirm why we're here in the first place."
The predictable verdict by a politically connected Judge reminded me of an old joke that Lenny Bruce often told, "In the halls of Justice, the only justice is in the Halls."
The Post reported, "With tensions simmering all day, demonstrators had spent hours surrounding the now-closed park near Wall Street as they waited for the judge's decision.
Hours after the city forcibly evicted protesters, scrubbed down the park and closed it, Occupy Wall Street protests scattered across downtown Manhattan."
Earlier in the day protesters thought they had a new space to occupy, a mile away at 6th Avenue and Canal Street on a property owned by Trinity Church, a religious institution with vast holdings in Downtown Manhattan. They called for a new mobilization at the site, an unused playground that is a now site for new construction.
Hundreds showed up with banners but so did the police in riot gear. Soon a "White Shirt" commander named Esposito arrived to take command. He ordered the occupiers off the site. Apparently someone else at Trinity had reneged on the earlier invite, or so it was said.
Some of the protesters left but at least 16 were swiftly arrested with one set of cops telling us to get off the sidewalks and others to get on them. Some journalists were also taken into custody. One woman in a wheel chair was let go.
Most of the demonstrators left the site and headed back to the Park which, later, let some back in after searching them, They are being told they cannot sleep there.
Clearly there is a new challenge here--to build the movement without a residential base. Two New York churches are now offering out of town demonstrators places to stay and others will no doubt extend hospitality.
Other sites may be found, but their "liberated zone" has been lost for now.
Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO issued a statement calling for more protests on November 17th when some activists vow to shut Wall Street down. The police action will do doubt incite more support for this international day of action.
His statement seemed unusually militant:
"They can take away the tarps and the tents. But they can't slow down the Occupy Wall Street movement. The 99% is undaunted. Occupy Wall Street's message has already created a new day. This movement has created a seismic shift in our national debate--from austerity and cuts to jobs, inequality and our broken economic system."
So, clearly, despite the loss of power over the Park, this movement will move on. The question remains: where is it moving---and how can bring the large number of Americans who support it along?
When the police were doing their thing, no doubt, only following orders, demonstrators chanted, "This is What Democracy Looks Like" and "No Riot here, take off your riot gear."