Occupy Wall Street sets sights on Lincoln Center

October 18, 2011 5:48:37 PM PDT
Some protesters left Zuccotti Park to rally outside the district attorney's office before heading to Lincoln Center Tuesday evening.

A month ago, it began with a Twitter posting urging people to occupy Wall Street. Since then, police have arrested 499 people. Most were cited and released. Officials say 89 people were actually booked into jail.

The protesters have raised a significant amount of money to keep things going, collecting almost $300,000 in donations.

The movement has no leader, but has managed to mobilize the disenfranchised and disgruntled around the world.

The protesters also have local support. More than 1,000 registered voters in New York City were surveyed by Quinnipiac University. Asked if they agree with the protesters, 67 percent said yes, 23 percent said no and 10 percent said they don't know.

When asked if they thought it was okay that they were protesting, 87 percent said yes, with just 10 percent saying no. Just 3 percent said they didn't know.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed to support the right of the demonstrators to remain in Zuccotti Park.

"It is private property, and whether you agree with it or not, they have the legal obligation to let anybody in 24/7 to protest," he said. "And unless they were to file a complaint saying someone was trespassing, we don't have any reason to go in and remove people."

Meantimes, protester Felix Rivera-Pitre says it was totally unprovoked and that an NYPD deputy inspector grabbed him and punched him-out.

It happened after he was unable to clear the street during a protest march on Friday.

"My reply was there's no sidewalk to get in, let me go, and that's when he didn't like my reply and went after em and punched me," Rivera-Pitre said.

Rivera says the crowd pulled him free in a tug-of-war with the police.

Four days later, he has not been charged with a crime.

"That is not an available or lawful manor of making an arrest," said Ron Kuby, the demonstrator's attorney.

Rivera is just one of 499 people arrested since the Occupy Wall Street protests began.

Most were charged with blocking streets or sidewalks.

Organizers are demanding that prosecutors dismiss the charges.

If not, demonstrators say they will clog the courts in protest, by exercising their right to stand trial instead of pleading guilty and paying a fine.

But critics insist that dismissing the charges would send the wrong message.

Reverend Jesse Jackson visited the demonstrators Tuesday and compared their movement to the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.

The charges, he said, should be dismissed.

"These people are in the Rosa Parks tradition, they're in the Dr. King tradition, they're breaking unjust oppressive laws. Dr. King's last act was to set up an occupation of the mall in Washington, DC," said Rev. Jesse Jackson, Civil Rights Leader.