Wednesday, 11 January 2012 10:13
NEW YORK: Barriers erected around the Manhattan square where the Occupy Wall Street movement was born were removed Tuesday for the first time since demonstrators were evicted two months ago.
About 250 protesters flocked to Zuccotti Park in New York's Financial District to mark the end of strict security measures brought in after the contested square became a battleground between police and activists.
Gathering around a large model of the Statue of Liberty, they sang and celebrated.
The park's owners, Brookfield Office Properties, took down the metal barricades after a legal challenge to the restrictions from several civil rights groups.
The barriers had been erected immediately after police forcibly evicted a tent camp established by protesters, who say they are campaigning against corporate greed.
"It's a big victory. They accepted they wanted to suppress the right of the protest. We will see what happens now," Bill Dobs, a spokesman with the OWS movement, said.
Rules imposed by Brookfield to combat protesters' initial aims of setting up a permanent tent village -- including a ban on lying down or erecting tents -- remained in force.
However, it was unclear whether the protesters would try to defy the regulations.
"If you are in #nyc and you are a member of the 99 percent, come join us at LibertySq," OWS encouraged followers on Twitter.
"We hope Zuccotti Park can now resume its rightful place as a center for meeting and protest in New York City," New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) executive director Donna Lieberman said.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012