The New York City Police Department made its move shortly after 1 a.m., when hundreds of officers in riot gear surrounded the small, privately owned plaza. They turned on large batteries of lights. Some used bullhorns to warn those sleeping there that the area was being temporarily evacuated so it could be cleaned and cleared of illegal structures. . . .
Many left. Others did not. One stood on a table in the center of the park and said “If you are here to protect our country, stand here. If you are here to save this park, disobey orders.”
Police and sanitation workers moved through and swept away tents, piling them in the corner of the park. A large group of protesters remained seated with their arms linked together near the encampment’s kitchen. Stevie Bates, an 18-year-old protester from the Bronx, said she saw at least six people with U-shaped locks around their necks.
Ms. Bates, who said she was among those seated near the kitchen, described the protesters as peaceful and said she had offered some of the police officers cookies. She said an officer hit her with a club but she was not injured.
“They pushed me out of the park the whole way. All of my stuff is gone,” Ms. Bates said. “They didn’t give us any time . . . They trampled on us, completely trampled us.”
As the police line held back anyone who tried to enter the park during the raid, protesters raised their hands in the peace sign and held up cameras to film the encounter. Some heckled police and hurled insults at them. Others said officers were just following orders.
“We’re trying to change the world!” Brendan Sanders told an officer.
“You guys gotta read the law,” the officer replied.