Mr. Bloomberg said the city had planned to reopen the park on Tuesday morning after the protesters’ tents and tarps had been removed and the stone steps had been cleaned. He said the police had already let about 50 protesters back in when officials received word of a temporary restraining order sought by lawyers for the protesters. He said the police had closed the park again until lawyers for the city could appear at a court hearing later in the morning.It's a legal matter, baby, a legal matter from now on.
Bloomberg's point is that the occupiers prevent other people from using the park. They're hogging the whole park. I sympathize with that position, having seen how the Wisconsin protesters last winter occupied the Capitol rotunda in a way that kept other people out. Now, the rotunda is a prime attraction in Wisconsin. Visitors to Madison continually wander into the space and, on normal days, gaze up into the dome. Children typically lie on the marble floor for the purpose of staring contemplatively upward.
Zuccotti Park, on the other hand — who'd even heard of it before? In fact, it's the Occupy Wall Street protesters who've made it famous, and if it's a tourist attraction, it's because of the OWS branding. And yet New York City parks are not mostly about attracting tourists. The people who live and work near a park are the ones with the most interest in access.
And now that the protesters have lawyered up and gone to court in an attempt to nail down legal rights to occupy the space, it changes the character of the interaction with the mayor, and it's quite understandable that he would take a hardcore stance in response.
ADDED: The description of the battle against the police is tucked further down in the linked NYT article. Snippets:
The protesters rallied around an area known as the kitchen, near the middle of the park, and began putting up makeshift barricades with tables and pieces of scrap wood....It's turning into "Les Miserables"... Now we pledge ourselves to hold this barricade/Let them come in their legions/And they will be met/Have faith in yourselves/And don't be afraid/Let's give 'em a screwing/That they'll never forget!
[As the police entered the park], dozens of protesters linked arms and shouted “No retreat, no surrender,” “This is our home” and “Barricade!”
ADDED: A reader emails:
I just finished playing a high school production of Les Miserables... and I was informed that the director of the musical (an alumnus of the high school) had specifically used Zuccotti Park and the OWS movement as a rallying point for the show. He was basically telling the kids that the OWS struggle, and the struggle leading up to the June Uprising, were one and the same.