NEW YORK (WPIX)—A new challenge has struck Occupy Wall Street protesters as rains, winds and dropping temperatures are making living conditions rather unfavorable at Zuccotti Park while significantly dampening the energy level.
To make matters worse, authorities entered the Lower Manhattan park Friday morning to confiscate a number of gas canisters and generators as the items were deemed a health and fire hazard.
In total, five generators and at least a half dozen canisters - some with vegetable oil - were reportedly seized by police.
While the morning ended with no incident, it was a contrast to 36 hours earlier when about a dozen protestors were arrested in scuffles with NYPD officers.
On Wednesday night, about 400 protestors marched from Zuccotti Park towards City Hall, police ordered the protestors onto the sidewalk and in some areas, used what's become a trademark orange mesh fabric to pen the protestors in.
The crowd splintered off and some clashes occurred, the main one in front of a PIX11 News crew at the intersection of Broadway and Duane street.
The heated exchange was somewhat out character for the long running Occupy Wall Street movement which has grown to have relatively good relations with the NYPD.
In contrast, other cities have begun cracking down on OWS protests. Most notably Oakland, CA, where clashes between protestors and police have led to over 100 arrests and multiple injuries. Reminiscent of the clashes in the 1960's police in riot gear fired tear gas into crowds as they tried to re-enter a plaza that had been closed down the previous day.
Former Marine Scott Olsen became a rally cry when he was shot in the face with a projectile. Oakland PD is investigating the incident which cracked the skull of the 24 year old I.T. Administrator who has served 2 tours of duty in Iraq.
A vigil for Olsen was held in Zuccotti Park Thursday evening. About the same time, news was circulating of a new Census Bureau report concluding the New York metropolitan area has the highest income inequality in the country. Not only taking the title as a 'metropolitan area,' the income disparity was also the highest in the country as a city, and also as a state.
The 'Occupy' movement has presented a particularly tricky political dilemma for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Not quite epitomizing the 99%, the mayor is feeling the heat of criticism for overturning term-limits to stay in office. Since the protests began on September 17th, the Mayor has at times made disapproving comments that highlight a disconnect with a movement that has grown faster and larger than many expected. At times a seeming straining to allow for dissent. Thru the sometimes dismissive tone, some have cited the Mayor's girlfriend, Diana Taylor, sits on the board of directors of Brookfield Properties which owns Zuccotti Park as part of a zoning agreement with the city.
"I support the protestors, I really do..." one police officer told PIX11 News, going on to say "...but they should have started this in March. Now the weather is going to be their enemy." A sentiment many have repeated as winter approaches, but for this night, harsh conditions seem to bring few signs of surrender in the camp.