At least a dozen people have been arrested as the New York Police Department cleared out Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, the main camp of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
City officials tell ABC News that protesters are being ordered to leave the park, and by some accounts only temporarily. Tuesday marks the two month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement which quickly spread to several cities across the country and globe.
Conflicts began early Tuesday when the NYPD surrounded Zuccotti Park with officers in riot gear, and broadcast by bullhorn the order for protesters to vacate the park, which was soon lit up with flood lights. Reports indicated police said they would arrest anyone who refused the order to leave.
Police officers in riot gear were seen pouring into the scene from all directions and sealing off the park. Officers backed by additional vans filled with police were driving protestors forcefully north up Broadway away from the park.
In one instance there was a scuffle with police, and one person was placed under arrest after some missiles were thrown.
At least two spots of violent clashes were reported north of Zuccotti Park, while two arrest wagons were filled with protesters at Broadway, about two blocks north of the park.
At the park, the tents, street furniture and any possessions protesters refused to move were dismantled and tossed into dumpsters and open-topped city garbage trucks.
A number of downtown New York street corners became very tense as they became packed with protesters standing chest to chest with helmeted police armed with batons.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Chief of Department of the NYPD Joe Esposito were on the scene supervising police, while hundreds of officers began to gather north of the park in lines, ready to march downtown.
By 2:30 a.m. only a handful of protesters remained in the park, although hundreds were gathered in pockets nearby. Protesters who vacated Zuccotti Park marched up to Foley Square, approximately 10 blocks north above City Hall.
A flyer that was handed out to protesters read: “The city has determined that the continued occupation of Zuccotti Park poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard to those camped in the park, the city’s first responders, and to the surrounding community.
“You are required to immediately remove all property, including tents, sleeping bags and tarps from Zuccotti Park. That means you must remove the property now.”
The flyer indicated that protesters would be allowed into the park “after a few hours” when the park has been cleaned, but they “will not be permitted to bring tents, sleeping bags, tarps and similar materials with you.”
The following tweet appeared at approximately 1:20 a.m. ET on the NYCMayorsOffice Twitter feed, which is the official Twitter of the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Occupants of Zuccotti should temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps. Protestors can return after the Park is cleared. #ows”
The Occupy Wall Street movement issued a statement regarding the police raid at 2:25 a.m. Tuesday.
“Supporters and allies are mobilizing throughout the city, presently converging at Foley Square. Supporters are also planning public actions for the coming days, including occupation actions,” the statement said.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters had reportedly planned to cause a massive disruption in traffic on the streets of lower Manhattan Tuesday in an attempt to delay the opening of the New York Stock Exchange.
ABC News’ Richard Esposito contributed to this report.