Barricades surrounding Zuccotti Park, which served as a camp for Occupy Wall Street protesters, were removed Tuesday, allowing protesters to stream back in.
The atmosphere was celebratory but calm on Tuesday evening as about 300 protesters began filling Zuccotti Park a couple of hours after the barricades were taken down. Protesters milled around, eating lasagna on paper plates and playing chess.
Security guards who were previously guarding the barricades stood off to the side, along with a handful of police officers.
The NYPD said the barricades were removed after it was determined they were no longer needed. They were not removed in response to any complaint.
On Monday, civil rights groups filed a complaint with the city's buildings department saying the barricades were a violation of city zoning law. The complaint said barricades surrounding the park since Nov. 15 interfered with the public's use of it. The public park is privately owned and is required to be open 24 hours a day.
Mark Brey, a member of the Occupy Wall Street press team, said no protesters would camp out at the park. "The plan is not to create a new Zuccotti Park. The plan is to continue what we've been doing, which is having various events around foreclosures or around unemployment."
But one protester, Lauren DiGiola said some Occupy protesters, who have complained about financial inequality and what they call corporate greed, planned to stay overnight. It was unclear whether they planned to use tents or sleeping bags, which have been banned from the lower Manhattan park since an early morning police raid evicted them on Nov. 15.
One security guard told a group of protesters: "No sleeping bags allowed, either, OK, folks?"
Protester Jeff Brewer said he tried to erect a tent but it was quickly taken down by security guards.
With the Associated Press
Park owner Brookfield Office Properties didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.