The Lookout

Sparse turnout at Occupy Wall Street park a week after eviction

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Lookout

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Two Occupy protesters address a school group on Nov. 21, 2011. (Yahoo/Dylan Stableford)

ZUCCOTTI PARK, New York -- A week after thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters were forcibly evicted from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan during an early morning raid, the park that's served as ground zero of the Occupy movement was noticeably short on attendance Monday.

At 11 a.m., there were exactly 39 people at Zuccotti Park, including journalists from the New York Post, Salon.com and Yahoo News. By noon, the number had risen to roughly 70.

Security personnel retained by the park's owners encircled the space, while barricades and NYPD officers also kept watch over the contingent of demonstrators hanging on in the wake of last week's raids on the site. At two entrances, security officers were checking bags for tents--part of the police crackdown imposed on the "mini-city" that demonstrators created here before the raid.

SEE ALSO: Occupy protesters wear Snuggies, sleep sitting up to get around new Zuccotti rules

"We kicked them out last week," one security guard at the edge of park said when asked about what appeared to be an underwhelming turnout. "These are the stragglers."

Among those "stragglers" present on Monday:

• Bobby Steele, a self-proclaimed outlaw with facial tattoos, with a vulgar sign protesting the banking ties of Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who is now the ranking member of the House Banking Committee.

• Christopher Guerra, a 27-year-old protester from Newark, who was counseling other protesters and tourists about their right to inhabit the park. "They can't evict people for sleeping," Guerra said. "That's against the Geneva convention."

• A man--who claimed his possessions were confiscated in last week's raid--holding a sign that read: "Mr. Bloomberg, I need my stuff back."

• A woman, protesting discounts afforded to banks, who said her stuff was also confiscated by the NYPD last week.

There were about a thousand people at Zuccotti Park on Sunday night, according to several reports. But a freelance reporter who has been covering the Occupy Wall Street protests began in September said last week's raid "weeded out" a significant portion of "reasonable" protesters, leaving "the crazies" behind.

Those that were here were peaceful--no blood, no pepper spray, no clashes with police.

There were rumblings of gatherings at other city parks, including Foley Square and Duarte Park, though there were few protesters at those locations as of 9 a.m. Monday. Several Zuccotti protesters said more members of the movement were expected here once a drum circle outside of Mayor Bloomberg's 79th street residence returned.

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Zuccotti Park on Nov. 21, 2011. (Yahoo/Dylan Stableford)

Paul Walton, a self-proclaimed entrepreneur dressed in a suit, arrived at Zuccotti around 11:30 attempting to mobilize an impromptu march to the American Express headquarters nearby.

"I have been wronged by an institution called American Express," Walton said, standing on a dirt mound near to the top of the park. "I am pissed off!" He left with the group he came with.

Around noon, a group of school children showed up to the park on a field trip. Two Occupy protesters--including Guerra, now wearing a helmet and cape--stood on a bench and tried to lead the school kids in an Occupy Wall Street chant; the kids watched in silence.

Shortly before 1 p.m., a large group of mostly senior citizens protesting cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicare entered the park, doubling the number of protesters there.

"We're here to show solidarity for Occupy Wall Street," they chanted, in a call-and-response directed at reporters.

Soon after, the leader of a daily "think tank" at Occupy Wall Street asked the group to move to the other side of the park. "Sorry, but we can't hear ourselves," he said.

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