It always did seem a little out of character for Occupy Wall Street to have an office space, especially one in the Financial District with a receptionist at the front desk and an express elevator, but now after a complaint about people illegally sleeping in the space, the protesters are packing up. "We’re moving out by the end of the month. I think there’s a chance some people will stick around, but for the most part we’re closing up shop," spokesman Patrick Bruner said on Monday.
An anonymous complaint was lodged with the New York Department of Buildings on Jan. 7. It says: "A cult community, four or five people are using the 12 floor as a residence illegally, using tents and sleeping bags," and it lists the space as an "illegal conversion [of a] commercial building / space to dwelling units." More recently, the building's management told the Occupiers to restrict their use of the office, reportedly limiting its occupancy to 18 people.
Occupy organizers told The Wall Street Journal on Saturday that they weren't sleeping there, and when we visited earlier in January we saw no tents or sleeping bags. (Also the office is indoors, like a normal office, so it would seem odd if they used tents). "The building's management has asked them to curtail their activities, allowing in only essential staff while the Buildings Department investigates," The Journal reported.
The move will not have any impact on Occupy Wall Street's finances as the rent is being paid for by an anonymous donor. Occupy's accounting working group is still using the office, but accounting organizer Haywood Carey said he didn't want to comment on the issue until he got "official word" on the office's future from the donor, the building management, and the affinity group that organizes Occupy's use of the space.
So where will Occupy go? "Right now people are doing a lot of stuff at the Center for Constitutional Rights," Bruner said. "We have a lot of allies, so I think we’ll be able to find a place where we can work, or a few places."