Thursday, October 13, 2011

Canadian owners of Zuccotti Park to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters tomorrow

                                                                      [updated below]
A New York subsidiary of the Toronto-based Canadian asset management company that owns Zuccotti Park has written to the NYPD asking them to evict the Wall Street protesters who have occupied the park since Sept. 17.
Commissioner Raymond W Kelly                                        October 11, 2011
New York City Police Department
One Police Plaza
Room 1400
New York, New York 10038
Facsimile: (646) 610-5865 
Re Zuccotti Park 
Dear Commissioner Kelly: 
As you know, for over three weeks, Zuccotti Park (the "Park") has been used by "Occupy Wall Street" and other protesters as their home base. The Park is owned by a Brookfield affiliate and was recently renovated at Brookfield's considerable expense as an amenity for the general public. It is intended to be a relaxing tree-filled oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Lower Manhattan. We fully support the rights of free speech and assembly, but the manner in which the protesters are occupying the Park violates the law, violates the rules of the Park, deprives the community of its rights of quiet enjoyment of the Park, and creates health and public safety issues that need to be addressed immediately. 
Within the Park, the protesters have set up living spaces with tarpaulins, mattresses, sleeping bags, tables, bookshelves, gasoline-powered generators and other items that are inconsistent with the rules and normal use of the Park.  At all hours of the day and night, protesters are sleeping on benches and walkways, blocking normal normal pedestrian access to the general public and preventing cleaning and maintenance workers from performing necessary upkeep. When not blocked by protesters, the walkways throughout the Park are blocked by various items and equipment brought to the Park by protesters.

We are extremely concerned about dangers posed by damage that may have been incurred within the Park and by materials and equipment brought into the Park by the protesters.  Brookfield protocol and practice is to clean the Park on a daily basis, power-washing it each weeknight, and to perform necessary inspection, maintenance and repairs on a regular, as-needed basis.  Since the occupation began, we have not been able to perform basic cleaning and maintenance activity, let alone perform more invasive repairs. For example, if the lenses to the underground lighting have become cracked, water could infiltrate the electrical system, putting occupants of the Park at risk of an electrical hazard or causing short-circuiting which would result in repairs requiring the Park to be torn apart for re-wiring. Any such repairs would force the Park to be closed to the public for indeterminate periods of time, depriving the city of a vital green space. Moreover, we are concerned about the fire safety hazard that gasoline and the gas-fired generators pose to the Park's occupants. 
After weeks of occupation, conditions at the Park have deteriorated to unsanitary and unsafe levels. The Park has no toilets and while the existing trash receptacles have always been more than adequate to accommodate normal waste in the Park, those receptacles are no longer even close to sufficient and the resulting trash accumulation is attracting rodents. 
Additionally, we have received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails from concerned citizens and office workers in the neighbourhood.  Complaints range from outrage over numerous laws being broken including but not limited to lewdness, groping, drinking and drug use, to the lack of safe access and usage of the Park, to ongoing noise at all hours, to unsanitary conditions and to offensive odors.  We have received complaints of harassment, one woman stating that she was verbally abused in front of her 5-year-old child and complaining that she had a package stolen from her as she tried to cross the Park.

We are also concerned with the constant deliveries of materials to the Park. Delivery vehicles have now been appearing on a daily basis with packages of all shapes and sizes for the Park's occupants. None of these deliveries are being screened by our security team or the police for suspicious or harmful materials.  The Park's location in the financial district makes this activity particularly concerning. 
For all of these reasons, we cannot currently ensure that the Park is safe nor can we perform the necessary cleaning, inspection, damage assessment and repairs.  In light of this and the ongoing trespassing of the protesters, we are again requesting the assistance of the New York City Police Department to help clear the Park so that we can undertake this work at the earliest possible time.  We will defer to the Department's judgment on how best to accomplish this, but the Department's intervention is necessary both to ensure our ability to comply with our obligations a owners and to make the Park safe for the neighborhood and public.

Once we have completed our cleanup and maintenance, we would ask that the Department assist Brookfield on an ongoing basis to ensure the safety of all those using and enjoying the Park. 
As you know, we have discussed this situation with you and/or others under your command on a daily basis seeking assistance.  The situation continues to worsen and we need your assistance to ensure public safety. 
I appreciate your time and consideration in addressing this important and pressing matter. Please call me at (212) 417-7063 with any questions or if you wish to discuss our request further. 
[signed : CEO Richard B. Clark]
Brookfield Office Properties
Brookfield Global Real Estate

Sheesh. If anything needs cleaning up here, it's Wall Street, not OWS.

Reality check from a comment left at the New York Observer  
(h/t greenvie at Bread & Roses) :
"the right to assemble and protest does, in fact, trump private property rights when the private property in question is commonly used as a public amenity as Brookfield itself has admitted.  Brookfield did not create the plaza out of altruism, but rather created the plaza in exchange for significant allowances in building height restrictions from the City of New York.  In other words, they were required to build a PUBLIC plaza in order to build their building.   
The real constitutional question we should be asking is why the protesters are not allowed to camp on Wall Street itself - a public street and a public right of way which is somehow off limits to our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech - as if it is located in another country and not subject to the constitution.  But then again, it kind of embodies what the protesters are complaining about anyway, doesn't it ?"

Chairman of the board of directors for Toronto parent company Brookfield Asset Management Inc. - assets $120-billion - is Frank McKenna. Other directors include Jack Mintz, Jimmy Patterson, the Vice Chair of Rogers Comm., the former Chair of HSBC, the CEO of Canada Oil Sands and Chair of Syncrude.
New York Mayor Bloomberg's girlfriend Diana L. Taylor is a director of the NY subsidiary office Brookfield Office Properties which sent the letter to the NYPD.

Dear Occupy Toronto :  : Brookfield Office Properties in Canada :
Brookfield Place, 181 Bay Street, Suite 330, Toronto, Ontario M5J 2T3
Tel: 416-369-2300 
Just sayin'. has a petition to stop the eviction, due to begin at 7am Friday, and to make Canadians aware of a Canadian corp's role in the eviction.

OWS responds : "Tell Bloomberg: Don’t Foreclose the Occupation.
Join us at 6AM FRIDAY for non-violent eviction defense."

Friday AM Update : WSJ
"Bloomberg says the city was notified shortly before midnight that Brookfield wanted to postpone the cleanup of Zuccotti Park. He says the property owner hopes to work out an agreement with the protestersBloomberg also says Brookfield has received "lots of calls" from elected officials siding with protesters."


Boris said...

The movement will be tested when the state tries to clear them. I think if they can remain in the streets or immediately return to the streets at scale should the police push them out, we'll have something.

Alison said...


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