Activists from Occupy Wall Street enter subway to educate the public about the terms of struggle taking place in the city. Over 200 people were arrested on November 17, 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
November 17, 2011
200 Are Arrested as Protesters Clash With the Police
By CARA BUCKLEY
Thousands of protesters across the country flooded streets, squares, bridges and banks on Thursday, snarling traffic and often clashing with the police in a show of support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, two months to the day after the demonstration began.
In Lower Manhattan, protesters tossed aside metal barricades to converge again on Zuccotti Park after failing in an attempt to shut down the New York Stock Exchange. In Los Angeles, more than 20 protesters were arrested after ignoring orders to vacate streets. In Denver, 100 protesters marched by government buildings and intersections, bringing traffic to a standstill.
Organized weeks ago, the so-called day of action came two days after the police cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment from Zuccotti Park in Manhattan in an early morning raid. After the protesters were ousted from the park that had become their de facto headquarters, a judge agreed that they could return later that day, albeit without their camping gear. They looked to Thursday to gauge the support and mettle that the movement had retained.
“We failed to close the stock exchange, but we took back our park,” said Adam Farooqui, 25, of Queens. “That was a real victory.”
Throughout Manhattan on Thursday, more than 200 people had been arrested by the evening, many after rough confrontations with the police. The police said that 5 protesters were charged with felony assault, and that 7 officers and 10 protesters were injured.
In more than a dozen cities, the demonstrations included marches across bridges, which protesters said were emblematic of a deteriorating public infrastructure.
Shortly before 6 p.m., about 60 protesters, including a New York City councilman, Jumaane D. Williams, were arrested for blocking a roadway that leads to the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Also arrested were one of the city’s top labor leaders, George Gresham, president of 1199/S.E.I.U., United Healthcare Workers East, and Mary Kay Henry, the president of the nationwide Service Employees International Union.
Protesters, many carrying candles, later filed across the bridge’s pedestrian walkway and crossed the East River.
The demonstrations came as encampments nationwide were being cleared out by city officials. In Philadelphia on Thursday, about 75 members of Occupy Philly met to discuss how to respond to city notices, posted on Wednesday, urging them to leave their encampment because construction plans were imminent.
In Oakland, Calif., where protesters have had sharp confrontations with the police, members of the Occupy movement chose not to participate in the call to action, shifting its next protest to Saturday in an effort to “continue this national momentum,” according to the group’s Web site.
The events on Thursday in New York City began shortly before 8 a.m. Throughout the morning, the protesters wound their way through the heart of the financial district in a cat-and-mouse game with the police. At one point, the protesters engulfed police vehicles, forcing them to halt, and broke police lines, only to be pushed back by metal barricades and swinging batons.
The stock exchange opened for trading as usual at 9:30 a.m.
The marchers returned to Zuccotti Park, hoisted the police barricades that had been encircling it and rushed past officers, some of whom began shoving demonstrators and throwing punches.
In the early afternoon, a protester was led from the park with blood streaming down his face. The police said he had thrown a small battery at officers and taken a deputy inspector’s hat.
The man, who the police said identified himself as Brandon Watts, 20, was charged with attempted assault and grand larceny. The authorities said that he had been arrested at least four times since the Occupy Wall Street demonstration began and that when he was arrested Thursday, he resisted arrest and struck his head when officers brought him down.
At a news conference at Bellevue Hospital Center, where an officer with a cut hand had received 20 stitches, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that some protesters “deliberately pursued violence” and that “the police maintained incredible restraint.”
Protesters had planned to “occupy the subways” throughout the city at 3 p.m., but the turnout of protesters on the trains was scant. At 5 p.m., thousands of protesters and members of about a dozen unions converged on Foley Square. “It’s magnificent,” Laurel Sturt, 55, who teaches elementary school in the Bronx, said as she gazed at the crowd. “All great movements of the past started like this.”
At a Midtown gathering of business leaders on Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg said that the protests were a dire sign of the public’s economic fears.
“The public is getting scared,” he said. “They don’t know what to do, and they’re going to strike out.” He added, “They just know the system isn’t working, and they don’t want to wait around.”
Reporting was contributed by Matt Flegenheimer, Steven Greenhouse, Rob Harris, Colin Moynihan, Katharine Q. Seelye and Kate Taylor from New York; Dan Frosch from Denver; Ian Lovett from Los Angeles; Sean Collins Walsh from Philadelphia; Malia Wollan from Berkeley, Calif.; and Lee van der Voo from Portland, Ore.