NEW YORK - (AP) - Police arrested 70 protesters at New York'sZuccotti Park early Tuesday, including some who chained themselvestogether, while clearing the park so that sanitation crews couldclean it.
Concerns about health and safety issues at Occupy Wall Streetcamps around the country have intensified, and protesters have beenordered to take down their shelters, adhere to curfews and relocateso that parks can be cleaned.
At about 1 a.m. Tuesday, New York City police handed out noticesfrom Brookfield Office Properties, owner of Zuccotti Park, and thecity saying that the park had to be cleared because it had becomeunsanitary and hazardous. Protesters were told they could return inseveral hours, but without sleeping bags, tarps or tents.
Paul Brown, a spokesman for the New York Police Department, saidthe park had been cleared by 4:30 a.m. and that about 70 peoplewho'd been inside it had been arrested, including a group whochained themselves together. One person was taken to a localhospital for evaluation because of breathing problems.
Police in riot gear filled the streets, car lights flashing andsirens blaring. Protesters, some of whom shouted angrily at police,began marching to two locations in Lower Manhattan where theyplanned to hold rallies.
Some protesters refused to leave the park, but many leftpeacefully.
Notices given to the protesters said the park "poses anincreasing health and fire safety hazard to those camped in thepark, the city's first responders and the surrounding community."
It said that tents, sleeping bags and other items had to beremoved because "the storage of these materials at this locationis not allowed." Anything left behind would be taken away, thenotices said, giving an address at a sanitation department buildingwhere items could be picked up.
Alex Hall, 21, of Brooklyn, said police walked into the park"stepping on tents and ripping them out,"
The New York Times reported that the clearing out of ZuccottiPark came as protesters announced on their website that theyplanned to "shut down Wall Street" with a demonstration onThursday to commemorate the completion of two months of thebeginning of the encampment, which has spurred similardemonstrations across the country.
On Monday, a small group of demonstrators, including localresidents and merchants, protested at City Hall. In recent weeks,they have urged the mayor to clear out the park because of itsnegative impact on the neighborhood and small businesses.
Occupy encampments have come under fire around the country aslocal officials and residents have complained about possible healthhazards and ongoing inhabitation of parks and other public spaces.
Anti-Wall Street activists intend to converge at the Universityof California, Berkeley on Tuesday for a day of protests andanother attempt to set up an Occupy Cal camp, less than a weekafter police arrested dozens of protesters who tried to pitch tentson campus.
The Berkeley protesters will be joined by Occupy Oaklandactivists who said they would march to the UC campus in theafternoon. Police cleared the tent city in front of Oakland CityHall before dawn Monday and arrested more than 50 people amidcomplaints about safety, sanitation and drug use.