NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – More than 700 people were arrested and the Brooklyn-bound lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge were shut down for hours as participants of “Occupy Wall Street” took their demonstration right into busy New York City traffic Saturday.
Police responded swiftly when hundreds of marchers moved from the pedestrian walkway to the roadway where only vehicles should be, making it clear they were coming to a dead stop.
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Officers had more than 500 people surrounded with orange mesh. Demonstrator Kimberly Ortiz was in the middle of it, with her boyfriend Nicky Pehl. He was arrested, but she was allowed to go.
“They separated the men and the women and the majority of people let go were women, 15 women, let go one guy,” Ortiz told CBS 2′s Dave Carlin.
With a police helicopter overhead, as many as a dozen Department of Correction buses moved in. Police said this became necessary after protesters ignored repeated warnings not to block traffic.
“Some complied and took the walkway without being arrested. Others proceeded on the Brooklyn-bound vehicular roadway. The latter were arrested,” the NYPD said in a statement.
Some protesters said they pushed back at police, feeling tricked by NYPD. They said officers seemed to deliberately guide them onto the car lanes, even escorting them off the walkway, then arresting them.
“No one was out being violent. I think it was a little over the top,” said demonstrator Jim Turturice.
For more than four hours, Brooklyn-bound traffic was diverted, causing tie ups across Lower Manhattan.
“We’ve been in traffic about half an hour,” said Amanda Lainesce of Staten Island.
“Ten minutes to get three blocks,” said Lynn of Huntington, Long Island. “All the people standing here are wasting their time.”
Some demonstrators told CBS 2 the large number of arrests will not deter them from doing something like this again soon.
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