Islam Times: “The bottom line is – people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we’ll allow them to,” said Bloomberg as he prepared to march in the Columbus Day Parade on Fifth Avenue. “If they break the laws, then, we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do: enforce the laws.”
Bloomberg said he has “no idea” how much longer the Wall Street demonstration will last. “I think part of it has probably to do with the weather,” he said.
Up til now, the mayor has been cagey when asked how long he’ll allow the protesters to stay, replying: “We’ll see.” His words Monday morning signal a stronger commitment to allowing the demonstration to continue unimpeded by municipal government.
Occupy Wall Street calls itself a resistance movement with participants from myriad backgrounds.
Bloomberg, the city’s 108th mayor, has a long track record as a strong defender of first amendment rights. Last year, he passionately defended plans to build a mosque and cultural center two blocks from the World Trade Center, a controversy that dominated media for months.
“This is the place where you can protest,” Bloomberg said last week, calling New York the “most tolerant, open city in the world.”
“Whether it’s the mosque or anything else, this is a city that values people’s rights and gives them the ability to say what they want to say. I think more so than any other city that I know of around the world,” he said.
The mayor has also defended the NYPD during several incidents with protesters during the past few weeks.
“We will enforce the law,” he said. “The freedom of speech is the freedom to say what you want to say but it is also the freedom to let people have opposing views, and people that don’t want to…say anything to go about their business.”