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Occupy protesters coordinate in marches nationwide

November 17th, 2011 12:54 pm by KAREN MATTHEWS

Occupy protesters coordinate in marches nationwide

NEW YORK (AP) — Demonstrations of Occupy Wall Street protesters popped up from coast to coast Thursday to mark two months since the movement's birth in a lower Manhattan park. Dozens of protesters were arrested by midday near Wall Street in New York, while hundreds of protesters marched in the financial district in Los Angeles.

A few hundred demonstrators paraded through lower Manhattan for several hours Thursday morning, and about 50 to 60 were arrested as they thronged intersections near the New York Stock Exchange, brokerage houses and banks.

"All day, all week, shut down Wall Street!" the crowd chanted.

Helmeted officers hauled several protesters to their feet after they sat down in the street to block traffic. Most of the crowd then assembled in Zuccotti Park, from which the protesters' camp was evicted this week. There were more rallies planned later in the day.

About 500 sympathizers of the Occupy protest marched in downtown Los Angeles. The protesters, chiefly a coalition of labor unions, gathered between the Bank of America tower and Wells Fargo Plaza, chanting "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out."

Protesters in Las Vegas vowed to pitch tents in front of a federal building. In Albany, N.Y., protesters from Buffalo, Rochester and other encampments were coming in by bus to join a demonstration in a downtown park.

Police in Portland, Ore., closed a bridge in preparation for a march there.

In New York, where dozens are typically arrested in periodic marches since the movement began, police hauled sit-in protesters to their feet, handcuffing them and setting up metal barricades.

"You do not have a parade permit! You are blocking the street!" a police officer told protesters through a bullhorn.

The congestion brought taxis and delivery trucks to a halt. Police were allowing Wall Street workers through the barricades, but only after checking their IDs.

The protest did not delay the opening of the New York Stock Exchange or disrupt business, said Rich Adamonis, a spokesman for the exchange.

The protest marked two months since the Occupy Wall Street Movement sprang to life on Sept. 17 with a failed attempt to pitch a protest camp in front of the New York Stock Exchange. After police kept them out of Wall Street, the protesters pitched a camp in nearby Zuccotti Park, across from the World Trade Center site.

On Tuesday police raided Zuccotti Park and cleared out dozens of tents, tarps and sleeping bags.

"This is a critical moment for the movement given what happened the other night," Paul Knick, 44, a software engineer from Montclair, N.J., said as he marched through the financial district with other protesters on Thursday. "It seems like there's a concerted effort to stop the movement and I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen."

The confrontations in New York followed early-morning arrests in other cities.

In Dallas, police evicted dozens of protesters from their campsite near City Hall citing public safety and hygiene issues. They arrested 18 protesters who refused to leave.

Two protesters were arrested and about 20 tents removed at an encampment on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.

Organizers in New York said protesters would fan out across Manhattan later on Thursday and head to subways, then gather downtown and march over the Brooklyn bridge.

In Foley Square, which is surrounded by state and federal courthouses, organizers got a permit that would allow them to march and use a microphone.

Passer-by Gene Williams, a 57-year-old bond trader, joked that he was "one of the bad guys" but that he empathized with the demonstrators.

"They have a point in a lot of ways," he said. "The fact of the matter is, there is a schism between the rich and the poor and it's getting wider."

The police department said Thursday it would have scores of officers ready to handle protesters in the subways.

"The protesters are calling for a massive event aimed at disrupting major parts of the city," Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said. "We will be prepared for that."

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