MANHATTAN - (AP) - The owners of a New York plaza where protestershave camped out for a month decided Friday to put off cleaning it,sending up cheers from demonstrators who feared the plan was merelya pretext to evict them and said the victory emboldened theirmovement. Protesters were already scrambling to scrub the park wherethey've been sleeping and eating for weeks when, under pressurefrom local officials, the owners of the park decided to call offtheir own cleanup. "It's really a victory for freedom of speech and fordemocracy," said Liane Nikitovich, 44, a fitness instructor."This is one moment. It shows that our support is growingworldwide."

In an emailed statement, Brookfield said Friday that it haddeferred cleaning the park for a short period while it negotiateswith protesters.

"At the request of a number of local political leaders,Brookfield Properties has deferred the cleaning of Zuccotti Parkfor a short period of time while an attempt is made to reach aresolution regarding the manner in which Zuccotti Park is beingused by the protesters," the company said.

The protesters declared their decision a boon to their movement,which blames Wall Street and corporate interests for the economicpain they say all but the wealthiest Americans have endured sincethe financial meltdown. Since starting a month ago in New York, themovement has spread to cities across the U.S. and the world.

"This development has emboldened the movement and sent a clearmessage that the power of the people has prevailed against WallStreet," New York organizers said in a statement.