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Toilets Bring Relief to NYC Wall Street Protesters

Installation part of efforts to improve quality of life for both protesters and area residents

Saturday, Nov 5, 2011  |  Updated 9:44 AM EDT
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Toilets Bring Relief to NYC Wall Street Protesters

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They may still be laboring to change the quality of life for the 99 percent, but Wall Street protesters have made some progress near their Manhattan park encampment: They now have toilets.

"Toilets: Installed," read an announcement on the Occupy Wall Street website Friday.

The three toilets were installed at a building two blocks from Zuccotti Park, where protesters have been camped for more than a month.

Their installation was announced along with other efforts to improve the quality of life for both the protesters and residents through sanitation, security and noise control.

The toilets, which have been donated by supporters, have round-the-clock security at a loading dock at the building where they are located and will be serviced once a day, said Han Shan, a spokesman for the protesters. They are open to protesters — and the general public.

"We'll scale up and put more in if we need to," he said. "There's no excuse for using anything else. ... If we have to get four, six or eight tomorrow, we will. Right now, we think this will do it for us."

He said he didn't know how much it cost their supporters to provide the facilities.

Shan, who works on the community relations working group, said the protesters had been working on securing toilets for weeks but had been denied permits by the city to install them at the park.

He said it was only by Friday that the efforts were successful and the toilets could be installed when the United Federation of Teachers opened a loading dock at their building on Broadway to the protesters.

"There's been a recognition among folks for a few weeks now that we want to be better neighbors," Shan said.

Some residents have complained about protesters going to the bathroom on streets and sidewalks and about excessive noise caused by drumming.

Elected officials who represent the Wall Street neighborhood sent a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday asking him to crack down on public urination and drumming by protesters, who have been camping out at the park since Sept. 17 to call attention to economic inequality and corporate greed.

On Friday, in response to the announcement of toilets being installed near the park, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, state Sen. Daniel Squadron and City Councilwoman Margaret Chin said in a statement that they appreciated the protesters' "attention to this issue."

But they again called on the city to take a "zero-tolerance" approach to public urination and "excessive noise."

In the statement issued Friday by Occupy Wall Street, the protesters said they recognized that the drumming was "excessive" during the first few weeks of the protest. They said the drummers had agreed to limit their noisemaking to four hours a day, between the hours of 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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