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Watching and waiting: Dispatches from the disputed streets of lower Manhattan

Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com

People crowd on a street in downtown New York City early on Nov. 15, after the police cleared Zuccotti Park and protesters were pushed into the side streets.

Msnbc.com's John Makely and Jonathan Woods have been photographing the scenes around Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan since the early hours of Tuesday morning. They gave a few impressions of what they have seen.

Jonathan Woods writes:

I got here around 3 a.m. ET and I really didn’t know what to expect. The first thing I saw when I walked onto Worth Street was a pile of dozens of bags of trash that the protesters had thrown into the street.

As I walked closer to Zuccotti Park the police presence became overwhelming. The streets surrounding the park were heavily barricaded.

Scuffles between police and protesters were few and far between -- most of those that I did see involved people refusing to get back on the sidewalk.

Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com

Police and protesters near Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15.

As I write it's 7.30 a.m. and most people are standing around waiting for somethign to happen. Protesters and press are thinly lining the sidewalks. It's turned into a waiting game.

Looking at Zuccotti Park, with the exception of the police and cleaning crews, if you hadn’t been aware of what transpired here since September 17, you would have no idea there had been a camp there until a few hours ago. It's alarmingly clean, it's spotless.

As New Yorkers made their morning commutes, some were surprised to see the park clear of the protesters. One woman passing by was rejoicing at how clean it was. She kept exclaiming, "It’s beautiful, the park is beautiful!" as she went.


John Makely / msnbc.com

A heavy police presence in lower Manhattan on Nov. 15.

On the opposite side of Zuccotti park, the scene was quite different.

John Makely writes:

Broadway and Pine Street were flooded with protesters who had either fled Zuccotti Park when the police began clearing it or arrived afterwards and could get no closer.  Protesters were standing on NYPD vehicles and sitting in the middle of the intersection.

While the scene wasn't tense there was an expectation that something would happen. Reinforcements beefed up the NYPD ranks and they warned those within earshot to clear out. Violent pushing, shoving and some punching later and the protesters were back on the sidewalk. Then a projectile was thrown from the crowd toward the police and about 30 seconds later there was a surge into the sidewalk by about 20 officers to attempt to catch whoever had thrown the object.

Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com

Police clear protesters from the area around Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15.

Tense expressions on the NYPD and vocal rants from the protesters, some taunting, "The more you attack us the stronger we get", some trying to find common ground. One officer yelled back "Shut your mouth!"

Police opened up a sidewalk leading to Zuccotti Park, which now stands freshly washed, with new barricades and a lot more officers.

John Makely / msnbc.com

NYPD officers surround Zuccotti park after cleaning crews finished removing tents and power-washing the plaza.

Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com

Members of the press, including John Makely of msnbc.com, center, work alongside tired protesters near Zuccotti Park early on Nov. 15.

Read our latest news story on the clearance of Zuccotti Park and see more coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement on PhotoBlog.