Occupy Wall Street Protesters Return To Zuccotti Park After Thousands-Strong Times Square Turnout
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – As Occupy Wall Street protesters marched and held rallies Saturday to commemorate the four week anniversary of the protests, nearly 70 were arrested.
Dozens of those arrests were at the Times Square rally, which was a tense scene at times with riot police and mounted patrols entering the crowd of thousands between 42nd and 47th Streets.
Two police officers suffered injuries and had to be hospitalized. One had a head injury.
PHOTOS: Times Square Rally
“Around 8 p.m., a large disorderly group at 46th St near Sixth was given at least three separate warnings to disperse and when they did not 42 arrests were made,” Deputy NYPD Commissioner Paul Browne said.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reports
“Today you saw a movement of movements. Today, in solidarity with 950 other cities across the globe, we had a movement going against corporate greed, for environmental justice, and especially for peace,” one protester told 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan.
“Occupy Wall Street is going global and I feel it here and I feel it local and I feel it global and I think it’s great,” Tyler Lurie-Spicer of Park Slope told Carlin.
Earlier in the rally, several protesters broke through police barricades and, during one scuffle with police, a police horse was knocked over.
“At about 6:15 p.m. tonight, there were about three arrests of I would describe hardcore individuals at Times Square, 46th and 7th Avenue. They tried to take down police barriers and then they’d run to the back of the crowd and try to encourage others to push forward against the police,” Browne told WCBS 880′s Monica Miller.
“A few of them began chanting ‘fight back’ but the crowd really didn’t pick up that chant, ” he added.
LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Monica Miller reports
“Seems to be a corralling of people right in to handcuffs and I haven’t seen any violence that justifies that so I think its pretty unjust,” Tara McManus of Bushwick told CBS 2′s Dave Carlin.
“There was no permit filed, but if they don’t try to breach the barriers and take the streets, there probably would not be arrests,” Browne said after the barricades arrest.
Several first-time protesters turned out for Occupy Wall Street’s Times Square rally. They told 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan that they decided to attend this rally to show their support, but had no intention of sleeping out.
Some New Yorkers and visitors to the city were unhappy to be rubbing elbows with the protesters, surprised to find them so far north of Zuccotti Park. Some theatergoers in a rush were unable to move.
“We had to walk how many blocks? We had to walk all the way around to get to the ticket booth,” tourist Mary Beth Ventrice told Carlin.
“It’s going to continue until it runs its course,” said Ralph Morgan of Auburn Hills, Michigan. “The sooner the better.”
“Yesterday, about 6,500 came here and we can’t fit any more so we’re going to take it to Times Square so more people can see what we’re doing, more people can see the movement and more people can celebrate,” said protester Foo Conner from Pittsburgh.
Chanting “Shame, shame!” about 1,000 demonstrators circled a Chase bank on Water Street, banging drums and carrying signs.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports
About a dozen went inside to close their accounts and withdraw their money to transfer it to worker-owned banks that support their movement.
“I’m just tired of it. Jamie Dimon gave himself a record bonus and fired 14,000 people from his company after getting a huge bailout. It’s not something I want to be a part of so I’m putting my money into a credit union in my neighborhood,” one woman told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “It feels really good.”
“We march to the bank to show them we are disgusted with their policy and how their interest rates are too high and you can’t even get a checking account without paying,” protester Daniel Klein from Staten Island told CBS 2′s Mark Morgan. “I owe money to a checking account. I can’t even save money, it’s disgusting.”
What started as a mostly calm and orderly protest ended with several arrests as a group of demonstrators marched from Washington Square Park to a Citibank Branch in Greenwich Village at LaGuardia Place.
Around 2:40 p.m., police arrested 24 protesters, charged with criminal trespassing, and one with resisting arrest. Police said they had refused the bank manager’s request to leave.
“Against her will, grabbed her and grabbed the man, arrested them both. The man’s hands were bloody. They were Citibank customers simply trying to close their bank accounts, and now they’re under arrest and in the paddy wagon as we speak,” Meghan Lenik from Brooklyn told WCBS 880′s Monica Miller.
“I was outside documenting this on my phone, but there were people inside protesting peacefully. When asked to leave, they were trying to leave and were not allowed to leave,” Lenik added.
In what protesters called a major victory, the owners of Zuccotti Park backed off their initial plans to clean up the park Friday morning, a move demonstrators saw as a tactic to remove them.
“It’s not about giving up, it’s about holding the ground,” said protester Pooja Desai.
On his radio show, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the owners of the park, Brookfield Properties, bowed to pressure from political leaders.
“My understanding is that Brookfield got lots of calls from many elected officials threatening them and saying ‘we’re going to make your life more difficult,’” Bloomberg said Friday.
Energized over the decision, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets, clashing with police as they marched onto Wall Street.
Police said the 15 arrests were mostly for blocking traffic. During the arrests, protesters chanted “The whole world is watching.”
Among the most notable incidents on Friday happened when one man lost his balance and was run over by a police scooter. The man could be seen screaming on the ground after the tire of the scooter apparently rolled over on his foot.
“He was just walking and the cop ran him over,” one witness said.
In a video posted online, a police officer is seen punching a protester in the side of the head. The altercation happened after the man tried to elbow the cop in the face, police said.
Police say the protesters were also throwing bottles and bags of garbage at officers, triggering the police response, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported. Police say they were trying to control the situation when it got out of hand.
Friday’s confrontations with police are still fresh in protestors’ minds.
“They can arrest us all they want, it’s only going to give us more strength,” said protester Bob Smith.
“I just think on an individual basis, we need to realize we’re not fighting the police, we’re not here to fight the police, the police are not the enemy,” said Victoria Campbell from Crown Heights.
According to their website, thousands are expected to attend the “party” in Times Square.
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