On Tuesday, an organizing group with the Occupy Wall Street protest hit a small roadblock that could be a sign of a larger obstacle when it got kicked out of the atrium at 60 Wall Street. About 100 organizers had met in the covered atrium, a publicly owned private space that protesters frequently use as a meeting site, to make plans for Thursday's big rally. But shortly after the meeting started (and the pizzas came), the building's management told them they had to leave. As they were leaving, Occupy Wall Street's Twitter account said signs went up on the walls with new rules for the space which ban posters, signs, "excessive use of space," and "loud boisterous behavior."
It's the second time in two days protesters have been kicked out of a space they thought they could occupy. On Tuesday, a group that had marched to Duarte Square after being ousted from Zuccotti decided to try to establish an encampment in a piece of land adjacent to the square but owned by Trinity Church. The church, whose main building sits near Zuccotti Park, has been sympathetic to occupiers in the past, but it balked when some tried to break into the lot at Duarte. The protesters apparently thought they had the church's blessing but they did not, and police forced them out, arresting some.
For nearly the duration of the movement it's been suggested that protesters try to take up residence in one of the city's 550 or so "bonus plazas," also known as publicly owned private spaces. The so-called POPS that dot the city stem from a 1961 zoning law that allows developers to build outside of normal restrictions as long as they also provide " 'light and air' that otherwise would have been blotted out by a towering skyscraper," explained NPR. "The bigger the plaza, the more zoning concessions a company could reap."
But as the New York Observer and The New York Times both noticed in October, many of the city's other POPS have been girding for an expansion of Occupy Wall Street, posting signs stating rules against camping or sleeping. Zuccotti owner Brookfield Office Properties got caught in a legal loophole that required it, as the landlord, to request a police sweep of the park even though it hadn't posted rules banning camping before the occupation started. Deutsche Bank-owned 60 Wall Street (at left) had been allowing protesters to gather in its atrium regularly, and they had planned organizing meetings there well into the future. But now it has joined the club of POPS landlords posting oddly specific rules.
Seems the protesters rented themselves a bit of office space just in time. Their welcome in New York's public-private "gray areas" appears to have come to an end.