Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday accused the Wall Street demonstrators of trying to cripple New York City's economy.
"What they're trying to do is take the jobs away from people working in this city," the mayor declared in his harshest criticism of the three-week-old protest that has caught the attention of the nation.
"They're trying to take away the tax base we have because none of this is good for tourism."
Although he expressed sympathy for "some of their complaints," Bloomberg warned that addressing them has to be accomplished "without hurting people and making the problem worse."
"If the jobs they are trying to get rid of in this city -- the people that work in finance, which is a big part of our economy -- we're not going to have any money to pay our municipal employees or clean the blocks or anything else."
The mayor's comments came in response to a caller to his WOR Radio show who asked what the city intended to do about the protest headquarters in Zuccotti Park, which is near her apartment and where hundreds of people are camped out.
"What about my rights to use the park?" asked the caller, named Marsha.
"This is a little bit of greenery that we reclaimed after Sept. 11. It's not usable. There is a general sense of incivility down there. But worst of all are the drums and the shouting. I know they've agreed to stop the drumming. Last night they were drumming until 10:45. Someone did a little practice drumming this morning at 7:50."
"We couldn't agree more," replied the mayor.
"We are trying to deal with this in a way that doesn't make the problem grow and protects everybody's rights."
He hinted that the city is hoping the protest peters out on its own.
"I think we let some of this -- not play out, isn't quite the right word, but let them express themselves," said Bloomberg.
President Barack Obama on Thursday defended the protesters, saying they expressed "the frustrations that the American people feel. People are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works."