Whatever you think of the Occupy Wall Street protesters who have taken over Zuccotti Park (formerly Liberty Park Plaza) across from the World Trade Center site and amid many of Manhattan’s most luxurious Financial District rental apartments, one thing seems certain: the Occupy Wall Street demonstration isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
That’s because, whether through shrewd strategic planning or crazy luck, the Occupy Wall Street protestors have set up camp in one of the few open spaces of Manhattan real estate from which they seemingly can’t be legally removed… or, at least, not without a fight that no one, right now, seems to want.
In case you’ve missed the backstory, let me explain…. Zuccotti Park isn’t public property, or New York City-owned land, so no matter how much Mayor Bloomberg or any other city official may want the Occupy Wall Street protesters to move, there really isn’t anything they can do about it, as long the demonstrators don’t break the law.
And, in fact, after going back and forth on the subject, Mayor Bloomberg most recently seems resigned to the fact that the occupiers will be staying in Zuccotti Park for the long haul (or, at least, until the weather gets nasty). As the Mayor told the Wall Street Journal last weekend: “The bottom line is, people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we’ll allow them to.”
So if Zuccotti Park isn’t public property, that means it’s private property, so can’t the owners just kick out the Occupy Wall Street protesters, as some residents of nearby Financial District rental apartments would like them to do? Well, it’s not that simple. It seems Zuccotti Park’s landlord, Brookfield Office Properties, must keep the park open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, according to the charter it signed with city. So, again, as long as the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators aren’t breaking any laws, there’s no glaring legal reason to kick them out.
That said, it helps the Occupy Wall Street cause that Brookfield Office Properties is, according to Capital, possibly the most genial landlord in town, not to mention the fact that their holdings in NYC are huge, including 6.2 million square feet of office space in Midtown and 12.8 million square feet in lower Manhattan, and so probably won’t make a move–by, for example, declaring the protestors “trespassers”–unless it was with the full cooperation of the city.
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