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Occupy Wall Street Protesters Return to NY Park

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Occupy Wall Street protesters have been allowed to return to a New York park from where they were evicted earlier Tuesday, but will not be able to set up camp overnight.

Zuccotti Park was re-opened late Tuesday after a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled the city was justified in enforcing a ban against sleeping in the park.

Police dressed in riot gear carried out a surprise pre-dawn raid at the park Tuesday, tearing down temporary dwellings and hauling trash from what had become an urban campground. Nearly 200 protesters were arrested after refusing to leave.

An Occupy Wall Street protester holds a sign after being allowed to re-enter New York's Zuccotti Park November 15, 2011. (Reuters photo)

The demonstrators later filed a motion seeking to be allowed back into the park with their tents and sleeping bags, but Judge Michael Stallman ruled that the protester's constitutional right to free speech was not violated by the park's sleeping ban.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that he agrees with the judge's decision that free speech does not include the right to "endanger the public or infringe on the rights of others by taking over a public space."

Since September, several hundred protesters had camped out at Zuccotti Park, which had been the epicenter for the nascent anti-capitalist protest movement.

A rising number of local residents and business owners had complained that the protest was having a negative impact on the neighborhood and small businesses.

New York's Occupy Wall Street movement has gathered momentum and spawned similar protests in parks and squares in major cities across the United States as well as in other countries.

Recently, however, police have been clearing encampments in areas such as Oakland, California and Portland, Oregon.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.