Zuccotti Park Is Owned By a Real Estate Company -- Will They Try to Get Protestors Kicked Out?
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Given the circumstances Lee had detailed, various members of the committee had come to conclude that a formal resolution from the community board couldn't do much good.
“The people who need to know that our neighborhood is being disrupted—the mayor, Brookfield, the police—they all know that loud and clear,” said Patricia Moore, chair of the board’s quality of life committee and a 34-year resident of the neighborhood.
And there were worries that putting the community group’s concerns in writing could put the organization in an unwelcome political position.
Last spring, Community Board One found itself the target of considerable heat when it voiced support for the building of the Cordoba House Project—the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. Last night, committee members tried with varying degrees of success to avoid to politics of the moment, and stick to the logistics. Sometimes, the temptation was too great.
“If we’re talking geographic location,” Scheffe said, “my view is that you guys need to be in Greenwich, Connecticut, at the gated communities, where the rich people live. Because the people being disturbed are middle-class people, just like you.”
His remark was directed at Wedes and Naomi Less, a fellow Brooklynite who had joined him at the meeting on behalf of the protesters. Scheffe had already been working behind the scenes with Wedes, to get the agreed-upon quiet hours in the square rolled back one hour, from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Wedes added that the discussions were particularly useful in making the protesters understand that not everyone living in this slice of lower Manhattan are “hedge-funders and rich bankers.”
Community Board One represents parts of lower Manhattan including Tribeca, the Financial District, Battery Park City and South Street Seaport. A simmering frustration throughout the evening was the challenge of working with Occupy Wall Street’s non-hierarchical governing structure, known as General Assembly.
The Wall Street protests, inspired in part by Egypt’s Tahrir Square protests and a suggestion to model a protest on them published by the “anti-consumerist” magazine Adbusters, has adopted a consensus-driven model, where decisions are made by consensus, with hand-signals for votes.
Wedes and Less continually responded to questions and requests by saying that any promises to the community would have to come from the General Assembly, at one point confusing an attendee who seemed to think the reference was to the U.N.
“That’s one of the issues of dealing with this non-leadership thing,” said Moore. “It takes a while.”
Of course, the same could be said for New York City community boards, which under the city charter are charged with delivering to the mayor and city council non-binding but often heeded guidance on zoning, development, and other issues affecting their sections of the city.
Slowing down the process last night was the challenge of finding a target. Who controls the levers that need to be pulled?
Brookfield was identified early. If the Committee was to suggest anything as rash as clearing the park, it would have to make its appeal to Brookfield.
But in the meantime, the police department, for example, might be called upon to draw down the number of officers stationed continually on the perimeter of Zuccotti Park.
Less suggested that the NYPD could check the movement’s website, occupywallst.org, so that they can ramp up only for scheduled marches.
“It’s going to get bigger,” added one committee member. “We need to think about this.”
“Actually, it’s not us that needs to think about this,” said Moore. “The city needs to think about it.”