Occupy Wall Street protesters were cleared from Zuccotti Park by hundreds of cops in riot gear early this morning. "The police are forming a human shield, and are pushing everyone away," said a witness. Angry protesters shouted: "Our park! No retreat. No surrender!" reports the New York Daily News. At least 70 were arrested, including some who chained themselves together, as police ripped down tents and dismantled the encampment kitchen. Protesters were ordered out so the park could be cleaned, and were told they could return later, but without tents or tarps, as they will no longer be allowed to camp out. An NYPD rep said the park had been cleared by 4:30am, reports AP. In a statement today, Michael Bloomberg explained that the city made the move in the middle of the night "to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood." He noted that returning protesters "must follow all park rules."
At around 1am, before moving in on the protesters, cops first handed out notices from park owner Brookfield Office Properties, saying the encampment "poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard." The eviction comes just as protesters announced a plan to shut down Wall Street on Thursday. Police also cleared the Occupy Oakland encampment yesterday, and ousted Occupy Portland protesters the day before. Oakland protesters plan to join demonstrators in Berkeley today for a day-long protest and attempt to establish a new encampment there. (Read more Occupy Wall Street stories.)