The New York City Police Department and the owners of Zuccotti Park informed Occupy Wall Street protestors staying there that they had to remove their tents, sleeping bags, and other belongings immediately and must follow park rules if they wished to continue to use it to protest, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.

Police notified protestors at 1 a.m. to avoid confrontation in the park and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood, Bloomberg said. Bloomberg News reported that over 70 protestors have been arrested.

By daylight, the park had been emptied as city workers worked to clean the site.

On Tuesday, however, a state judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the city from removing the protesters, as well as enforcing park rules established after the protests began in Mid-September.

Bloomberg has held off on plans to re-open the park, according to the Wall Street Journal. There is a hearing on the issue scheduled for later on Tuesday

In a statement, Bloomberg said the protestors that have camped there since September were asked to temporarily leave the park so Brookfield Properties can clean it and that they can return once the cleaning is finished later this morning. However they are not allowed to bring tents or sleeping bags and they must follow park rules.

“Protestors – and the general public – are welcome there to exercise their First Amendment rights, and otherwise enjoy the park, but will not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags, or tarps and, going forward, must follow all park rules,” Bloomberg said.

The request made by Brookfield, to clear out the park and enforce no sleeping and no camping rules was approved by Mayor Bloomberg and he made the final decision to act as “health and safety conditions became intolerable.”

Bloomberg Justifies Eviction

“From the beginning, I have said that the City had two principal goals: guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protestors’ First Amendment rights,” said Bloomberg.

“But when those two goals clash, the health and safety of the public and our first responders must be the priority.”

Bloomberg explained that the park had become a safety hazard and that the conditions were bringing forth danger to the public.

“The dangers posed were evident last week when an EMT was injured as protestors attempted to prevent him and several police officers from helping a mentally ill man who was menacing others. As an increasing number of large tents and other structures have been erected, these dangers have increased,” he said.

“It has become increasingly difficult even to monitor activity in the park to protect the protestors and the public, and the proliferation of tents and other obstructions has created an increasing fire hazard that had to be addressed.”

While some argued to allow the protestors to stay in the park indefinitely and others suggested they just wait for winter, hoping the cold weather would drive away protestors, Bloomberg said, adding that he “could not wait for someone in the park to get killed or to injure another first responder before acting.”

Bloomberg said the majority of the protestors have been peaceful and responsible but it was the unfortunately minority that have created and “intolerable situation,” as the park was becoming a place to break laws and harm others as oppose to protesting.

“There have been reports of businesses being threatened and complaints about noise and unsanitary conditions that have seriously impacted the quality of life for residents and businesses in this now-thriving neighborhood.”

Bloomberg stressed that “no right is absolute and with every right comes responsibilities,” explaining that protestors had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags, but now they must occupy the space with the power of their arguments only.

“The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out – but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others – nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law,” said Bloomberg.

“There is no ambiguity in the law here – the First Amendment protects speech – it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.”