Updated: After 73 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested over the weekend, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the way police handled the protests at Zuccotti Park Saturday night and quipped when asked why barricades were put back up.
“The barricades are back in Zuccotti Park because people were trying to move in and set up tents, which is not allowed. That’s the only reason you put barricades up. Other questions,” Bloomberg said in response to a reporter’s question in Queens.
When that reporter persisted with another question about the legality of the barricades, Bloomberg shot back saying “You have a right to protest, you have a right to go in the park, you don’t have don’t have a right to set up tents – end of story.”
Some New York City Council members, meanwhile, are voicing criticism over the police department’s handling of the protests, saying that excessive force was used.
Bloomberg, however, insisted that the NYPD is well-trained and knows how to handle a crowd.
“This police department knows how to control crowds without excessive force and this police department is very well run and…does things the way you’d like it to. I can’t tell you every once in a while, some cop doesn’t go off and do something that’s stupid or something they shouldn’t. We have 35,000 uniformed cops,” Bloomberg said.
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The mayor also had a direct message for protesters, saying “You want to get arrested? We’ll accommodate you, but if you want to express yourself that’s not the best way to express yourself.”
The protesters were back in Zuccotti Park over the weekend to mark the six-month anniversary of the movement. Occupy Wall Street has also called for its supporters to hold a strike on May 1 in protest of arrests.