Arrests, injuries during Day of Action

November 17, 2011 8:07:06 PM PST
Police arrested protesters who sat on the ground and blocked traffic into New York City's financial district and the Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday, part of a day of mass gatherings in response to efforts to break up Occupy Wall Street camps nationwide.

Thursday evening, protesters headed to the Brooklyn Bridge. They marched from Foley Square to the Brooklyn Bridge.

99 people made up of religious figures, activists, union types and politicians, volunteered for an act of civil disobedience. They will sat at the entrance of the bridge on Centre Street to block traffic. They were all arrested. Those taking part in the act of civil disobedience wore tee shirts that said 99 percent.

Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was detained by police at the West Indian Day Parade, is one of the 99 arrested at the Brooklyn Bridge.

Organizers say tens of thousands of people are marching across the Brooklyn Bridge chanting, "This is what democracy looks like! This is what America look like." No arrests have been made on the bridge at this point, and it appears very orderly and peaceful.

The group is projecting a 99% logo on the Verizon Building in Lower Manhattan. It switched from the logo to a list of every city being "occupied" around the world.

By Thursday night, 300 people had been arrested by police, including one for throwing a liquid into the face of police officers. A total of seven police officers suffered injuries during confrontations with protesters. Police said four officers went to a hospital after a demonstrator threw some kind of liquid in their faces. Many demonstrators were carrying vinegar as an antidote for pepper spray.

The most serious injury reported so far occurred when one officer was struck with piece of glass in the shape of a star that had been hurled at him allegedly by a protester. Officer Matthew Walters, 24, received 20 stitches for lacerations to the hand.

The mostly peaceful, if occasionally tense day of protests was twice marred by scuffles with police.

However police acknowledged that for the most part the morning protests were peaceful and, "people were able to get to and from their offices," according to Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne.

During the morning protests, police in riot helmets hauled several protesters to their feet and handcuffed them at an intersection one block from Wall Street.

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

Hundreds of protesters thronged intersections around the financial district, an area of narrow, crooked streets running between stately sandstone buildings housing banks, brokerage houses and the New York Stock Exchange.

After several arrests along one street, protesters retreated. A line of riot police followed them and set up metal barricades.

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

A few blocks away, a separate group of about 50 protesters sat in a circle on the ground and said they would not budge.

Thursday's demonstration around Wall Street failed to disrupt operations at the stock exchange but brought taxis and delivery trucks to a halt. Police allowed Wall Street workers through the barricades, but only after checking their IDs.

The demonstrators included the 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."

Many of the demonstrators returned to Zuccotti Park after the morning march, but the confrontations continued. Witnesses said a protester who was harassing an officer flicked his hat off his head. The protester ran into the crowd in the park, and then police chased after him.

Thursday 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.

Demonstrations and arrests were also reported in other cities.

About 500 sympathizers, many of them union members, marched in downtown Los Angeles between the Bank of America tower and Wells Fargo Plaza, chanting, "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out."

In Albany, N.Y., about 250 protesters from Buffalo, Rochester and other encampments arrived by bus to join a demonstration in a downtown park. Police in Portland, Ore., closed a bridge in preparation for a march there and later detained more than a dozen people who sat down on the span.

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 what to do about an encampment in Philadelphia, where about 100 protesters were ordered on Wednesday to clear out immediately to make way for a long-planned $50 million plaza renovation at City Hall.

Associated Press writer Colleen Long in New York contributed to this story.