Within an hour of the removal of the barriers, the kitchen working group was serving hot food to all who wanted it, protesters were making and arranging cardboard signs, and the Occupy Wall Street library was slowly being reassembled, cartload by cartload.
As has been true several times in the past, the library quickly became a flashpoint and a rallying place, as Brookfield employees repeatedly warned protesters that the books were not allowed in the park. Protesters defied the warnings. Gideon Oliver noted that there is no prohibition on books in Brookfield’s evolving list of rules for the park, and that to ban the books would be unconstitutional. The Brookfield guards ultimately backed down, telling Segal they were just there to inform people of the rules, not enforce them.
Two protesters were arrested for sitting on benches behind the stacked barriers, but after a dozen more replaced them, the police stopped trying to keep occupiers away from the area.
What the significance of the newly un-barricaded park will be going forward remains to be seen — after all, it has been technically accessible to the public throughout, and the same park rules that discouraged occupiers over the last two months remain in place. But the psychological significance of the reopened park to the movement is real, and tonight, the protesters are treating it as a victory.