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Protesters Occupy The Rose Parade (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

First Posted: 01/02/12 01:13 PM ET Updated: 01/06/12 12:21 AM ET

Perhaps the most anticipated float of the 2012 Rose Parade is an unofficial entrant: a giant "Occupy Octopus" made out of plastic bags. Occupy The Rose Parade protesters plan to march the 70-by-40-foot "float," along with a giant blown-up version of the United States Constitution, at the end of the Rose Parade.

Occupy's "People's Parade" will be marching against corporate personhood and the foreclosure crisis, according to the organizers' site, as well as protesting the influence of corporate money in politics.

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Hundreds of protesters gathered at Singer Park in Pasadena hours before the Rose Parade to practice holding their floats and making more hand-held signs. By 8 a.m. PST, there were about 400 people, making signs and munching on snacks before the march.

Rose Parade bystanders gave a mixed response to the marchers as they made their way to the starting line of the parade. One man, who declined to give his name, told the Huffington Post, "I agree with some Occupy beliefs, but do not think this is the right place to do it." Others with him also agreed that the Rose Parade wasn't the appropriate venue for a protest.

Zia Back, one of the protesters, told the Huffington Post that she had seen pleas on the Occupy the Rose Parade forum to halt their demonstration. "It said, 'Please don't come because I'm bringing my kids to the parade,'" said Back. "But Occupy the Rose Parade sets a good example and is about the future of our youth," she insisted.

Another activist, Pablo Lopez, who is a student at Cal Poly Pomona, recalled similar objections leading up to the protest. "People on TV were saying that even though their hearts used to be with Occupy, they aren't anymore because of Occupy the Rose Parade," Lopez said. Wearing a collared shirt and tie, Lopez hopes that his friendly face and demeanor will work against hostility toward the Occupy movement.

Activist Fernando Garces, who was there at 6 a.m., told the Los Angeles Times that the group was looking into occupying events like the Grammys in the future.

Occupy The Rose Parade is led by Peter Thottam, a controversial figure in the Occupy movement. While he had initially hoped to be joined by thousands of protesters, he's since tempered expectations and now thinks 1,000 will be there. Thottam admitted to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that "Occupy The Rose Parade" did not get formal approval from the Occupy Los Angeles general assembly, which could explain low turnout numbers. Occupy Pasadena demonstrators also declined to formally endorse the march as well.

Occupy The Rose Parade's organizers endorse a completely peaceful, non-violent protest. To make sure things go smoothly, activists have engaged with the Pasadena police in hours of meetings, and dozens of "peacekeepers" in bright green vests will keep the peace during the march.

UPDATE:

Occupy The Rose Parade stepped off at 9:30 a.m., and while television broadcasters didn't stick around for their march, the whole thing was streamed live on UStream. Protesters were led by 30 police cars, and at every block of the parade route, about one dozen cops were standing on the corner.

While some parade viewers started leaving the bleachers for their cars, most of the stands remained full throughout the People's Parade. Viewers supplied the marchers with a healthy mix of both cheers and jeers.

Raul Plata, a parade-goer from Washington, D.C., told the Huffington Post that he was impressed with the Occupy the Rose Parade marchers. "To me, it was a surprise that they were so clever to take advantage of a free opportunity to show off their case, which is change in the world," said Plata. "I think the very long Constitution was a very unique and impressive. Maybe they'll keep on taking advantage of world-wide promoted events."

Bystander Logan Chandler, who came to Pasadena from San Diego to watch the parade and the game, was less enthused. He told The Huffington Post, "I get it. Money runs everything, but I think the protest is pointless. You need to vote and push legislation to really make change."

But protester Josephine Clare, a 78-year-old poet and translator from New York, had a different view of the morning's events. "I thought it was very successful," said Clare. "It's very important that there be a reaction to the abysmal, abysmal economic and political state of things."

At about 10:20 a.m., the final Occupy the Rose Parade protesters were crossing the finish line and continued marching through Old Town Pasadena. They were flanked by a handful of religious protesters railing against sin, alcohol and drugs and calling all to turn to Jesus Christ. Clare, a Catholic, exchanged words with the "Jesus protesters," saying that "Jesus would have been protesting with us. He was a demonstrator!"

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  • Occupy Rose Parade protestors carry 250-foot Constitution at the Rose Parade 2012. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade protestors hold signs up to Rose Parade audience on Jan. 2, 2012. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade's ironic "billionaires," making a statement against concentration of wealth, march after the Rose Parade. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • About a dozen religious protestors were interspersed among the Occupy the Rose Parade protestors, with about four of them trailing the end of the protestors. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Womens grassroots organization Code Pink and gay rights groups were a part of Occupy the Rose Parade on Jan. 2, 2012. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade protestors hold signs up to the Rose Parade audience on Jan. 2, 2012. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade protestors prepare to march up Orange Grove Blvd. at the Jan. 2, 2012 Rose Parade. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade protestors face religious protestors who tailed their march immediately following the Jan. 2, 2012 Rose Parade. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade protestors carry 250-foot Constitution at the Rose Parade 2012. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade protestors carry a 250-foot Constitution banner at the Rose Parade on Jan. 2, 2012. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade protestors wait at Orange Grove Blvd. and California Blvd. to carry a 250-foot Constitution through the Rose Parade route on Jan. 2, 2012. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade had it's own "marching band," or walking drum circle, at the Rose Parade on Jan. 2, 2012. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade had it's own "marching band," or walking drum circle, at the Rose Parade on Jan. 2, 2012. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • A sign of the preamble to the Constitution, replacing the word "people" with "corporations" and replacing the Founding Fathers' signatures with corporate logos, to protest corporate power. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Three police cars drove in front of Occupy the Rose Parade protestors at the Jan. 2, 2012 Rose Parade. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

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  • Protesters practice wielding a huge sign depicting a hand grabbing money. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • On the day of the 2012 Rose Parade, "Occupy" protesters gathered at nearby Singer Park. Shown here, the "bankers" discuss marching strategy. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles).

  • Protesters at Singer Park gather to make signs before the march. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles).

  • Practicing with the 70-by-40-foot "Occupy Octopus" float at Singer Park. The float is made out of plastic bags. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles).

  • On the day of the Rose Parade, protesters gather to make signs before the march. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles).

  • Occupy LA protesters display banners and slogans ahead of the start of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on January 2, 2012, in Pasadena, California. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Occupy LA protesters display banners and slogans ahead of the start of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on January 2, 2012, in Pasadena, California. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Occupy LA protesters display banners and slogans ahead of the start of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on January 2, 2012, in Pasadena, California. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Occupy LA protesters display banners and slogans ahead of the start of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on January 2, 2012, in Pasadena, California. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Occupy LA protesters display banners and slogans ahead of the start of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on January 2, 2012, in Pasadena, California. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Occupy activists test a giant octopus made with plastic bags in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. The group is planning a series of "floats" after the end of the Tournament of Roses Parade, Monday Jan. 2, including a giant octopus made of recycled bags and a blow up of the Constitution. Picketers will also carry banners with slogans from the movement such as "Corporate Money Out of Politics." (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Occupy activists Donald Kronos, left, and Dick Chogyoji test a float made with a copy of the Constitution in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. The group is planning a series of "floats" after the end of the Tournament of Roses Parade, Monday Jan. 2, including a giant octopus made of recycled bags and a blow up of the Constitution. Picketers will also carry banners with slogans from the movement such as "Corporate Money Out of Politics." (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • In this Dec. 29, 2011 photo, Occupy activists test a float made with a copy of the Constitution in Pasadena, Calif. Activists with the Occupy movement, which protests perceived corporate greed and growing economic inequality, are planning to turn out en masse, on Jan. 2, at the annual Rose Parade accompanied by their own floats of sorts. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • In this Dec. 29, 2011 photo, a man takes a nap as Occupy activists test a float made with a copy of the Constitution in Pasadena, Calif. Activists with the Occupy movement, which protests perceived corporate greed and growing economic inequality, are planning to turn out en masse, on Jan. 2, at the annual Rose Parade accompanied by their own floats of sorts. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Occupy activists test a giant octopus made with plastic bags in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. The group is planning a series of "floats" after the end of the Tournament of Roses Parade, Monday Jan. 2, including a giant octopus made of recycled bags and a blow up of the Constitution. Picketers will also carry banners with slogans from the movement such as "Corporate Money Out of Politics." (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Occupy Rose Parade's "billionaires," representing the concentration of wealth, in Singer Park. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade demonstrators in Singer Park dance in a circle with the plastic-bag octopus, representing Wall Street's "stranglehold" on the American economy and political system. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade protestors holding their 250-foot long sign of the Constitution before the parade in Singer Park. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • A sign of the preamble to the Constitution, replacing the word "people" with "corporations" and replacing the Founding Fathers' signatures with corporate logos, to protest corporate power. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade drum circle in Singer Park before the parade. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

  • Occupy Rose Parade drum circle in Singer Park before the parade. (Huffington Post/Kathleen Miles)

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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.

From the Miami New Times:

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.

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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.

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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.

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Occupy Long Beach is defending the mother's home. For more information, click here.

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The woman had the apparent seizure has been identified by the New York Observer as Cecily McMillan:

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.

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Cops caught on video about 10 seconds in taking down the woman who had the apparent seizure:

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Watch video from inside Zuccotti Park as police moved in late last night:

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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.

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@ 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!

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@ macfathom : Doubling east on Barclay, and now the ragged front of the march is at City Hall. #OWS

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@ 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?"

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@ jeffrae : March is heading north up broadway #ows #occupywallstreet

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@ macfathom : Dozens of arrests, many cuffed and sitting on broadway waiting for their ride to jail. #OWS

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@ RDevro : Police are barricading the park. It's cleared. I witnessed countless violent arrests. No way to estimate numbers.

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@ troutish : Protesters being dragged out by the head at #OWS #Zucotti Park http://t.co/qomhKkrA

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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.

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@ ANIMALNewYork : Police are moving in. It's chaos.

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@ ANIMALNewYork : NYPD just made an announcement that Brookfield has to "clean the park" and Liberty Plaza is officially "closed."

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@ 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

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@ JackieHRye : NYPD just "destroyed" the tent in Zuccotti Park, Occupiers call for its re-building. Marching band also going through the park. #OWS

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@ RDevro : The tent in the middle of the park continues to fill with people planning to stay the night. Lots of energy here.

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Activists ask for more room as the tent is growing, expanding.

"It looks like a floating tent." -- as Tim on his live stream.

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Owly Images

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@ 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

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Activists have assembled make-shift, cardboard sleeping areas inside Zuccotti Park. The cardboard is joined by a large green tarp.

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@ RDevro : A tarp is going up in Zuccotti as protesters march around the park chant-dancing. #m17 http://t.co/rJfP3GF9

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