NYPD officers removed barriers tonight at Zuccotti Park, just one day after the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild put New York City on notice that its arbitrary and inconsistently applied rules and security measures restricting the public’s access to the park violated city zoning laws.
"We're pleased the city is finally giving the park back to the people," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "We hope Zuccotti Park can now resume its rightful place as a center for meeting and protest in New York City."
On Monday, the groups sent a letter New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri urging him to promptly address the violations and ensure that Zuccotti Park is open and accessible to all members of the public on an equal basis. Metal barricades had encircled the park since the NYPD cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment there on Nov. 16. Until tonight, the public could only enter the park through two gaps where security personnel selectively subjected people to searches.
The groups said that these security measures and the constantly changing, selectively enforced and unwritten park rules violated zoning laws, longstanding city policies, and park-owner Brookfield Properties’ legal obligations under a 1968 special zoning permit that established the park as a “permanently open park” for “the public benefit.”