NEW YORK (AP) — Barricades surrounding a park that served as a camp for Occupy Wall Street protesters were removed Tuesday, allowing protesters to stream back in.
The atmosphere was celebratory but calm on Tuesday evening as about 300 protesters began filling Zuccotti Park a couple of hours after the barricades were taken down. Protesters milled around, eating lasagna on paper plates and playing chess.
Security guards who were previously guarding the barricades stood off to the side, along with a handful of police officers.
"Word spread pretty quickly, and we ran down here," demonstrator Lauren DiGioia said. "It's hard to remember what it was like before the barricades were put up."
She said some Occupy protesters, who have complained about financial inequality and what they call corporate greed, planned to stay overnight, but it was unclear whether they planned to use tents or sleeping bags, which have been banned from the lower Manhattan park since an early morning police raid evicted them on Nov. 15.
One security guard told a group of protesters: "No sleeping bags allowed, either, OK, folks?"
About 20 Occupy Wall Street protesters spent the night.
By 6 a.m, about 20 remained, including Chris O'Donnell.
He says three people were arrested for lying down. A police spokesman couldn't immediately confirm any arrests.
Protester Jeff Brewer said he tried to erect a tent but it was quickly taken down by security guards.
"I was still putting in the poles when they showed up," Brewer said. "Our food is in, our library is up. I think it's going to be a big celebration for us in the park right now."
On Monday, civil rights groups filed a complaint with the city's buildings department saying the barricades were a violation of city zoning law. The complaint said barricades surrounding the park since Nov. 15 interfered with the public's use of it. The public park is privately owned and is required to be open 24 hours a day.
Park owner Brookfield Office Properties didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Associated Press writers Meghan Barr and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.