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Zuccotti Park to be cleaned up and Wall Street protesters cleared out

Zuccotti Park has been occupied by Wall Street protesters for the last four weeks, but in a sudden turn of events they will have to vacate the park tomorrow morning and will not be allowed to return with their sleeping bags, tarps, tables, or other gear.

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"We're trying to clean the entire park, mobilizing everyone," O'Keefe said. "We don't want anyone to get hurt."

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The regulations are not new — they existed prior to the occupation — but they have not been enforced until now. Because the park is private property, police cannot enter it unless Brookfield calls and files a complaint requesting police assistance.

Protest spokesman Patrick Bruner sent an email to supporters Thursday asking them to join the protesters at 6 a.m. Friday (1000 GMT), an hour before the scheduled cleaning, to "defend the occupation from eviction." An influx of demonstrators could set up a showdown with police.

The owner's notice lists regulations including a prohibition of tents, tarps and sleeping bags on the ground, no lying on benches and no storage of personal property on the ground. Those rules could end protesters' ability to continue living, sleeping and preparing food in the park, as they have been since Sept. 17.

Brookfield confirmed Thursday that the notices were passed out to demonstrators, but spokeswoman Melissa Coley would not comment on how the regulations would be enforced.

"As sections of the park are cleaned, they will reopen to the public," Brookfield said in an emailed statement. "All are welcome to enjoy the park for its intended purpose as an open neighborhood plaza, in compliance with posted rules."

Police officers escorted representatives of the company as the notices were passed out to demonstrators.

Some protesters questioned the need to clean the park in the first place.

"This is the cleanest protest I've ever witnessed," said Emilio Montilla, 29, a laid-off teacher's assistant. "We take care of ourselves. We're self-sufficient."

Bill de Blasio, the city's public advocate, expressed concern over the city's actions as he inspected the parkThursday afternoon and listened to protesters' complaints.

"This has been a very peaceful movement by the people," he said. "I'm concerned about this new set of policies. At the very least, the city should slow down."

The tree-lined space beside a tower commissioned by U.S. Steel was known as Liberty Plaza Park until 2005, when it was renovated and named for John E. Zuccotti, the U.S. chairman of Brookfield Properties.

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement Wednesday that the protest has "created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park." He said Brookfield asked for police help to clear the park so it can be cleaned.

Holloway said the cleaning will be done in sections.

The protest has spawned sympathetic groups in other cities which each stage their own local rallies and demonstrations: Occupy Boston, Occupy Cincinnati, Occupy Houston, Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Philadelphia, Occupy Providence, Occupy Salt Lake, and Occupy Seattle, among them.

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