Protesters Surge Back Into Zuccotti Park

About 150 to 200 people associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement gathered in Zuccotti Park on Saturday and, in a return to scenes from earlier in the year, held a general assembly meeting, chanted the now familiar slogan “We are the 99 percent” and experienced a bit of friction with police officers.

At about 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, people started flowing into the park, according to witnesses, and someone erected what was described as a small tent built for a child. Two young girls, who were at the park with their mother, began playing inside.

Though the New York City Police Department had officers fanned out throughout the city for the holiday, there were police officers lined up across the street from Zuccotti Park, at the ready alongside private security guards. They stepped in.

Police officers and security guards instructed protesters to remove the tent, saying it violated rules issued by the park’s owner, Brookfield Properties, banning tents, tarps and other structures inside the square. Meanwhile, a police officer and a security guard, who declined to identify themselves, tried to block other protesters, and at least one reporter, from entering the park. Some people disregarded their instructions and squeezed their bodies through the spaces between metal barricades.

According to Brendan Burke, an organizer with the Occupy movement, police and security officers said that if the tent was taken down, people would be permitted to enter the park. So shortly after 8 p.m., members of the Occupy Wall Street movement dismantled the tent and handed it over to security guards. The security guards stepped aside, and protesters were allowed to enter.

In the six weeks since officers cleared the park in an overnight raid, a spot in its northeast corner has been cordoned off with bright yellow tape. That corner, with its high granite ledge, is where general assembly meetings were usually held. On Saturday night, the tape was down and the meeting re-adjourned.

At one point, a man stood on the ledge and was ordered down by a security guard.

“You’re fighting a losing battle,” the man answered. “Give me one good reason why I should get down.”

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