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Mayor visits NYC protesters, orders cleaning of park

From Jordana Ossad, CNN
updated 9:35 PM EDT, Wed October 12, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bloomberg met with Occupy Wall Street protesters Wednesday, deputy mayor says
  • The mayor said Zuccotti Park will be cleaned on Friday, according to a statement
  • Owners of the private park concerned about "unsanitary conditions," "wear and tear"
  • Cleaning to be done in stages; areas of the park will reopen for protesters to return

New York (CNN) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with Occupy Wall Street protesters Wednesday evening and informed them that the private park where they have been staying for nearly four weeks will be cleaned on Friday, according to a statement from the Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway.

The owners of Zuccotti Park have voiced their concern about the current "unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park," the statement said.

"The Mayor is a strong believer in the First Amendment and believes that the protesters have a right to continue to protest," Holloway said in the statement. He added that the current situation in the park is "not in the best interests of the protesters, residents or the City."

The cleaning will be done in several stages, and when certain areas are cleaned, protesters will be able to come back to the park if they obey the rules set forth by the owners Brookfield Properties, the statement said.

Zuccotti Park was built for the general public.

"I'm glad that he finally found what we were doing important enough to visit after dismissing it for several weeks," Tyler Combelic, a member of the press relations work group for Occupy Wall Street told CNN. "I'm hoping that the city will be willing to work with the Occupy Wall Street occupiers in arranging a way to get the cleaning done, which both does not disturb the encampment nor does it too greatly impede on the cleaning process," Combelic said.

Combelic added that these were his personal opinions and that he was not speaking on behalf of Occupy Wall Street.

The protest campaign began in July with the launch of a campaign website calling for a march and a sit-in at the New York Stock Exchange.

For almost a month, demonstrations have addressed various issues, including police brutality, union busting and the economy, the group said.

Organizers have said they take their inspiration from the Arab Spring protests that swept through Africa and the Middle East this year. Crowds have taken up residence in the park in New York's financial district, calling for 20,000 people to flood the area for a "few months."

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