NEW YORK — Occupy Wall Street protesters clogged streets and tied up traffic around the U.S. on Thursday to mark two months since the movement's birth and signal they aren't ready to quit, despite the breakup of many of their encampments by police. Hundreds of people were arrested, most of them in New York.
The demonstrations – which took place in cities including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, Washington and Portland, Ore. – were for the most part peaceful. Most of the arrests were for blocking streets, and the traffic disruptions were brief.
Chanting "All day, all week, shut down Wall Street," more than 1,000 protesters gathered near the New York Stock Exchange and sat down in several intersections. Helmeted police officers broke up some of the gatherings, and operations at the stock market were not disrupted.
As darkness fell, a coalition of unions and progressive groups joined Occupy demonstrators in staging rallies at landmark bridges in several U.S. cities to protest joblessness.
In New York, a crowd of several thousand people, led by banner-carrying members of the Service Employees International Union, jammed Manhattan's Foley Square and then marched peacefully across the Brooklyn Bridge on a pedestrian promenade.
As they walked, a powerful light projected the slogan "We are the 99 percent" – a reference to the Americans who aren't super-rich – on the side of a nearby skyscraper. Police officers dressed in wind breakers, rather than riot gear, arrested at least two dozen people who walked out onto the bridges' roadway but otherwise let the marchers pass without incident.
Several weeks ago, an attempt to march across the bridge drew the first significant international attention to the Occupy movement as more than 700 people were arrested.
Thursday's protests came two days after police raided and demolished the encampment at lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park that had served as headquarters of the Occupy movement and as demonstrators and union allies tried to regain their momentum.
"This is a critical moment for the movement given what happened the other night," said demonstrator Paul Knick, a software engineer from Montclair, N.J. "It seems like there's a concerted effort to stop the movement, and I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen."
At least 300 people were arrested in New York. Some were bloodied during the arrests. One man was taken into custody for throwing liquid, possibly vinegar, into the faces of several police officers, authorities said. Many demonstrators were carrying vinegar as an antidote for pepper spray.
A police officer, Matthew Walters, needed 20 stitches on his hand after he was hit with a piece of thrown glass, police said.
In Los Angeles, about 500 sympathizers marched downtown between the Bank of America tower and Wells Fargo Plaza, chanting, "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" More than two dozen people were arrested.
Police arrested 21 demonstrators in Las Vegas, and 20 were led away in plastic handcuffs in Portland, Ore., for sitting down on a bridge. At least a dozen were arrested in St. Louis in the evening after they sat down cross-legged and locked arms in an attempt to block a bridge over the Mississippi River. More were handcuffed for blocking bridges in Philadelphia and Minneapolis.
In Chicago, hundreds of protesters organized by labor and community groups marched toward the Chicago River. They stopped at the river bridge and shut it down to rush-hour traffic. Police officers scrambled to divert cars and pedestrians. People watched the protests from office windows and bus stops.
In Seattle, hundreds of Occupy Seattle and labor demonstrators shut down the University Bridge as part of a national day of action demanding jobs. Traffic was snarled around Seattle's University District as two rallies marched toward the bridge.
Several of the demonstrations coincided with an event planned months earlier by a coalition of unions and liberal groups, including Moveon.org and the SEIU, in which out-of-work people walked over bridges in several cities to protest high unemployment.
The street demonstrations also marked two months since the Occupy movement sprang to life in New York on Sept. 17. They were planned well before police raided a number of encampments over the past few days but were seen by some activists as a way to demonstrate their resolve in the wake of the crackdown.
Thursday's demonstrations around Wall Street brought taxis and delivery trucks to a halt, but police were largely effective at keeping the protests confined to just a few blocks. Officers allowed Wall Street workers through the barricades, but only after checking their IDs.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said police had been expecting as many as 10,000 protesters based on what activists had been saying online. But he said there had been "minimal disruption."
"Most protesters have, in all fairness, acted responsibly," he said after visiting an injured police officer in the hospital.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said officers confiscated metal devices that some demonstrators had apparently planned to use to lock themselves into the entrances to Wall Street businesses.
The demonstration that drew thousands of people to Foley Square in the evening was a rarity in the Occupy movement: Union organizers obtained a permit from the city, and speakers were allowed to use a sound system.
Among the demonstrators arrested in New York was a retired Philadelphia police captain, Ray Lewis, who was taken into custody in his dress uniform. Others included actor and director Andre Gregory, who said he hoped the movement would lead to national action on economic injustice.
"It's a possible beginning of something positive," he said.
Some onlookers applauded the demonstrators from open windows. Others yelled, "Get a job!"
"I don't understand their logic," said Adam Lieberman, as he struggled to navigate police barricades on his way to work at JPMorgan Chase. "When you go into business, you go into business to make as much money as you can. And that's what banks do. They're trying to make a profit."
Gene Williams, a bond trader, joked that he was "one of the bad guys" but said he empathized with the demonstrators: "The fact of the matter is, there is a schism between the rich and the poor, and it's getting wider."
The confrontations followed early morning arrests in other cities. In Dallas, police evicted dozens of protesters near City Hall, citing health and safety reasons. Eighteen protesters were arrested. Two demonstrators were arrested and about 20 tents removed at the University of California, Berkeley.
City officials and demonstrators were trying to decide their next step in Philadelphia, where about 100 protesters were under orders to clear out to make way for a long-planned $50 million plaza renovation at City Hall. Union leaders pressed the demonstrators to leave, saying construction jobs were stake.
___Associated Press writers Colleen Long, Jennifer Peltz, Meghan Barr in New York contributed to this story.
Via HuffPost Miami:
When an Occupy Miami member offered evicted protestors vacant apartments in a building he owns in Downtown Miami's Overtown neighborhood, it seemed like the perfect solution: the 'Peace City' space would provide headquarters for the movement and shelter a small faction of the group's most vulnerable members. But it hasn't gone well. Other tenants say the building has become a cesspool of drug use and violence while non-resident Occupy Miami members are trying to distance themselves from the 'radicals' -- all while the two factions are wrestling for control over Occupy Miami's social media sites and future plans.
The feud between the Overtown occupiers and more mainstream members has only gotten worse. The two factions are now battling for control of Occupy Miami's social media sites. The movement's main Twitter account recently announced it had been "hijacked by a small, non-consensus group of radical members." The Occupy Miami Facebook page was also temporarily hacked by someone inside Peace City. Meanwhile, the Overtown occupation is slowly driving away more moderate members.
"This is a black eye on the Occupy movement," says Shannon Reaze, an Overtown community organizer and Occupy Miami supporter who is now helping tenants move out of Paz's building. "The violence and drugs going on here are way outside of what I thought Occupy stood for. This place is destabilized."
...The supposedly hard-core activists here spend their days drinking and getting high. And as Peace City devolves into lawlessness, the most committed occupiers are leaving. Local landowners and politicians want the place shut down, while cops are suspicious. Yet as long as Paz wants the protesters around, nothing short of a demolition order can keep them out.
Via HuffPost DC:
WASHINGTON -- Occupy DC has a new lawsuit involving tents on its hands. But it doesn't involve temporary structures in McPherson Square.
Two protesters arrested during a February action outside Merrill Lynch's offices on 15th Street NW near McPherson Square have filed suit against the Metropolitan Police Department, Legal Times reports. (Read the complaint here.)
The plaintiffs, Samuel Dukore and Kelly Canavan, were part of a "targeted occupation" of Merrill Lynch on Feb. 13 where protesters were raising awareness about Merrill Lynch's reportedly close ties with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Issa, for his part, claims that the reports of these close ties are "wildly inaccurate."
Full story here.
OWS reports via its website:
After the brutal attack on the attempted re-occupation of Liberty Square by NYPD on the 6-month anniversary of #OWS, a number of Occupiers have relocated their base of occupation to Union Square in midtown Manhattan, a point of convergence for several #OWS protests over the past 6 months.
According to reports on the ground, several dozen people slept in the park after the illegal and violent raid on Liberty Square. Over 70 people remain, now on Day 3. Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it ¨the new Occupation.¨ In addition to holding General Assemblies, Union Square Occupiers are providing vital jail support for those arrested on #M17 as they are released from NYPD custody. So far, the NYPD has made no attempt to remove Occupiers or prevent them from sleeping in the park.
Occupy Long Beach is defending the mother's home. For more information, click here.
Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist once profiled in Rolling Stone, suffered a seizure Saturday night during protest action near Zuccotti Park. Many on-scene reported Ms. McMillan had trouble breathing after she was tackled and handcuffed by law enforcement.
A video uploaded to Youtube late Saturday night purports to show the attack. Two women can be heard commenting, “There’s Cecily,” then there is confusion as the police clearly perform a violent take-down on someone in the crowd.
According to Jeff Sharlet’s November, 2011 article about the Occupy Movement, this may be Ms. McMillan’s second violent encounter with police.
To read the full story, go here.
Cops caught on video about 10 seconds in taking down the woman who had the apparent seizure:
Watch video from inside Zuccotti Park as police moved in late last night:
- Show quoted text -
The paper reports from last night's chaos at Zuccotti Park:
At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.
By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.
Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.
To read the full story, go here.
|@ Greg_Palast : Our photographer ZD Roberts beaten @OWS Zucotti Park by cops. Thrown to ground, hair grabbd, hit with clubs while yelling, I'M PRESS PRESS!|
|@ macfathom : Doubling east on Barclay, and now the ragged front of the march is at City Hall. #OWS|
|@ LuddoftheFuture : girl in the street having a seizure and the cops have her in handcuffs. can this get any worse (live at http://t.co/4pLyy3gP)|
Activists cry out for paramedics. The woman is limp on the ground. "Come on you violent bastards where's the paramedics?"
|@ jeffrae : March is heading north up broadway #ows #occupywallstreet|
|@ macfathom : Dozens of arrests, many cuffed and sitting on broadway waiting for their ride to jail. #OWS|
|@ RDevro : Police are barricading the park. It's cleared. I witnessed countless violent arrests. No way to estimate numbers.|
Cops pulling apart human chains. There are shouts for mic checks. Now, chants start forming. "The NYPD are sweeping through," says Tim on the live stream.
|@ ANIMALNewYork : NYPD just made an announcement that Brookfield has to "clean the park" and Liberty Plaza is officially "closed."|
|@ OccupyWallStNYC : Bagpipers just started marching into the park bringing the party mood with them, NYPD arrested one of them, and things got real heated. #OWS|
|@ JackieHRye : NYPD just "destroyed" the tent in Zuccotti Park, Occupiers call for its re-building. Marching band also going through the park. #OWS|
|@ RDevro : The tent in the middle of the park continues to fill with people planning to stay the night. Lots of energy here.|
Activists ask for more room as the tent is growing, expanding.
"It looks like a floating tent." -- as Tim on his live stream.
|@ OccupyWallStNYC : .@justawall is leading us in a song! "Hit the road, banks! And don't ya come back no more no more no more no more!" #OWS|
Activists have assembled make-shift, cardboard sleeping areas inside Zuccotti Park. The cardboard is joined by a large green tarp.