Protesters took to the streets in rainy New York and cities across the United States for a day of action seen as a test of the momentum of the two-month-old grass-roots movement against economic inequality.
In the biggest New York protest since a police raid broke up the protesters’ encampment in a park near Wall Street on Tuesday, organizers and city officials had expected tens of thousands to turn out.
Organizers and city officials had expected tens of thousands to turn out for a demonstration following the New York police raid that broke up the protesters’ encampment in a park near Wall Street on Tuesday.
“We certainly want to see more people mobilize and show up,” said Occupy Wall Street spokesman Jeff Smith, who nevertheless said there was “a fantastic turnout.”
Many protesters complained of police brutality, pointing to one image of man whose face was bloodied during his arrest and another of a woman who was dragged across the sidewalk by an officer.
After tempers among police and protesters flared throughout the day, crowds grew larger and more festive after dark.
“This is a great night for a revolution. I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life,” said Daniel Reynolds, 34, a financial analyst at a venture capital firm, who joined the protests for the first time on Thursday.
Police barricaded the narrow streets around Wall Street, home to the New York Stock Exchange, and used batons to push protesters onto the sidewalk as they marched through the area to try and prevent financial workers getting to their desks.
According to the reports of police, seven officers were injured, including one whose hand was cut by a flying piece of glass and five who were hit in the face by a liquid believed to be vinegar.
Protesters banged drums and yelled, “We are the 99 percent,” referring to their contention that the U.S. political system benefits only the richest 1 percent.
“I wanted to see more people. I had watched this on the news and hoped for more. I wasn’t satisfied with the numbers (at the protest),” said Sadat Hadzijic, 20 from the Bronx.
Demonstrators targeted bridges they considered in disrepair in cities such as Miami, Detroit and Boston to highlight what they said was the need for government spending on infrastructure projects to create jobs.
An 84-year-old woman has become a face of the national Occupy Wall Street movement after she was hit with pepper spray during a Seattle march.
A photo of Dorli Rainey with the chemical irritant dripping from her chin quickly went viral, becoming one of the most striking images from the protests that have taken place in cities across the globe.
Mayor Mike McGinn has apologized to some protesters who were pepper sprayed during a march and said he has spoken to Rainey.
In Los Angeles, hundreds of anti-Wall Street demonstrators marched through the financial district, blocking a downtown street to snarl morning rush-hour traffic, and briefly pitched tents outside a Bank of America office tower. Nearly 80 protesters were arrested in the city.
Las Vegas demonstrators have sought approval from government leaders and police before protesting or setting up a camp site. They called off a protest during President Barack Obama’s visit to Las Vegas last month because police asked them to do so. And they have created a system of protest rules that ban, among other things, law-breaking and hate signs.
At least 300 people gathered at Chicago’s Thompson Center, giving speeches in English and Spanish. The protest was focused on jobs with signs reading: “We need jobs, not cuts” and “Jobs, schools, equality: end the wars.”
San Francisco police began arresting students and anti-Wall Street protesters who stormed into a downtown Bank of America, sat down and began chanting on Wednesday. More than 100 demonstrators stormed the bank,chanting, “Money for schools and education, not for banks and corporations.” Riot-clad officers began putting plastic cuffs on the demonstrators, who refused to leave the bank.
About 100 marched through downtown Denver, chanting slogans and calling for the recall of Mayor Michael Hancock for his decision to have police remove illegally pitched tents and other items from the Occupy Denver campsite last weekend.
London officials attached eviction notices to protest tents outside St. Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday. They are asking demonstrators to remove the camp by Thursday evening or face legal action.
The notices posted by the City of London Corporation said the encampment was “an unlawful obstruction” of a sidewalk, and asked protesters to take down “all tents and other structures.” [via Reuters, MSN and CNBC]