Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the site of the ongoing "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration in Lower Manhattan Monday and informed protesters that the private park where they are staying will be cleaned on Friday.
For more than four weeks, protesters have stayed in Zuccotti Park and denounced what they call big business' control over lawmakers and the country's economic inequality.
Area business owners and residents have complained about unsanitary conditions in the greenspace.
In a statement, Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway said the cleaning will be done in stages and that demonstrators can return to the cleaned areas, so long as they follow rules set by Brookfield Properties, the owner of Zuccotti Park.
“The mayor is a strong believer in the First Amendment and believes that the protesters have a right to continue to protest. At the same time, the last three weeks have created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park," Holloway said in the statement. "This situation is not in the best interests of the protesters, residents or the City."
The mayor previously said that the demonstration can continue, as long as protesters follow city rules.
Skeptical demonstrators told NY1 Wednesday night they feared the clean-up will be the first step in their removal.
"I don't think he will be able to clean this place up. Even if he does, I think the piece that will be lifted up will be the piece that will be planted somewhere else," said one protester.
"They tried pretty hard to get us before realizing that legally they can't. So, I wouldn't be surprised if they're resorting to other ways to get us to leave," said another protest.
This was announced hours after hundreds demonstrated in front of the Downtown Manhattan headquarters of JPMorgan Chase on Wednesday.
One group tried to present the bank's CEO with a mock check for billions of dollars, which protesters said represents the money the CEO will pocket if New York's so-called "millionaires' tax" expires.
Police were out in full force, arresting several people who walked by the building's loading dock.
"One officer ran into the crowd and pulled out a 60-year-old couple, a man and a woman. Pulled them out of the crowd, a crowd of hundreds of people, where obviously those two weren't doing anything different than of the hundreds of people," said one eyewitness.
Chase did not comment on the demonstration.
Protests Held Against Trade Agreements, Cut Union Benefits
Protesters also gathered outside Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's office on the Upper East Side Wednesday to urge her to vote against free U.S. trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea.
Demonstrators claimed the agreements will harm workers and the economy, both in the United States and the countries they are meant to help.
"They are making it basically illegal or banning any regulation of a lot of the Wall Street risky financial products that caused our financial crisis in the first place." said Sukiong Hong of Korean Community Development.
"We have to ask why Representative Carolyn Maloney and other Democratic representatives are really selling out their constituents today to support this Korea Trade Agreement that will outsource 159,000 jobs to sweatshops," said Adam Weissman of Trade Justice.
By Wednesday night, Maloney had not commented on the demonstration.
The three free trade agreements passed Congress on Wednesday.
Union members also joined the fight against corporate greed Wednesday, as hundreds of office cleaners and members of Local 32BJ marched to the New York Stock Exchange to spotlight the need for good jobs.
With their contract set to expire at the end of the year, workers said they should not have their salaries or benefits cut.
"The economy is perhaps not the best economy we can have," said Local 32BJ Treasurer Hector Figueroa. "The owners are enjoying good profits. The banks are already having record profits. There is no reason why working people in this economy can't get good wages and be treated with dignity."
Thousands of other office cleaners in Pennsylvania and Washington were also looking for new contracts, which are set to expire in a few days.