NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lower Manhattan is quiet today after Thursday’s chaotic “Day of Action” by Occupy Wall Street brought thousands of protesters and police into the Financial District.
WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman In Zuccotti Park Friday Morning
Only a handful of protesters were in Zuccotti Park this morning, a stark contrast from the thousands who were there 24 hours earlier.
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Future For OWS
Organizers are assessing the future.
“So, what comes next?” asked WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.
“Right now, literally, recharging, regrouping,” said spokesman Bill Dobbs. “What’s the best strategy to get more people involved?”
Dobbs knows there were a lot of people inconvenienced.
“There are plenty of things in everyday life that can get on our nerves, but don’t forget what this is about – economics.”
He says this is just the beginning.
Thursday’s loud but largely peaceful march near Wall Street to mark the two-month anniversary of the movement occasionally descended into violent clashes. Around 300 people were arrested throughout the day.
In his weekly WOR Radio show, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the protesters have made their voices heard, but now it’s time to move forward.
“I don’t think that the things they are trying to protest about have gone away,” he said. “They don’t know how to coalesce and get the message out, but that doesn’t mean that what they’re complaining about isn’t real but I think we have to sit back and say that’s true, not let’s go fix it.”
Scuffles between protesters and police in Zuccotti Park and elsewhere on Thursday in Lower Manhattan left seven police officers injured. One officer needed at least 20 stitches in his hand after blocking a glass object hurled at him.
The goal of Thursday’s day of action was to shut down Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.
But the protesters ultimately failed to deliver on their promise. A spokesman for the NYSE said the opening bell went off as normal and there was no disruption in trading. Police had cordoned off a two-block area around the Exchange, turning it into a virtual frozen zone.
That lead to tense moments and occasional skirmishes between police, protesters and area residents and workers who were just trying to get by.
Protestors chanting “Wall Street’s closed” tried to keep many from going to work by forming a human chain near the Exchange.
“They’re making it harder for the average guy to make a living,” one man said. “They’re not hurting banks. They’re just hurting the regular guy.”
“The police just stormed in and just started grabbing people and throwing people to the ground,” said one protester.
Thursday night, 99 people sat in the street at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge but were quickly arrested.
“This is what democracy looks like,” demonstrators shouted.
But Bloomberg said that the majority of those who marched over the Brooklyn Bridge did not fully represent the anti-Wall Street movement.
“I think that one of the noticeable things was that a vast percentage of the people were union members protesting, some private unions and municipal unions, and they had organized signs and leadership and that sort of thing, so it really wasn’t the protesters that have been in Zuccotti Park or that you see around the country,” he said.
Despite some widespread fears of protesters severely disrupting the New York City transit system, plans to Occupy the Subway never materialized. Protesters said they had no intention of disrupting subway service.
Now that the day of action is over, protester Mark Bray says the Occupy movement is moving forward.
“Change starts with awareness and if you look at any significant change that’s happened in history, it takes a really long time,” he said.
Bloomberg also defended his decision to dismantle the protesters’ camp in Zuccotti Park.
He said taking down the tents early Tuesday morning was the right thing to do and says now, the protesters need to move on.
“It was the right thing at the right time,” he said. “As you know, I’ve never been about looking back. Let’s go forward from here.”
Those who remained in Zuccotti this morning said a few here say they’ll occupy in shifts overnight just to keep a foothold at where it all started.
Similar day of action protests also took place in cities around the country like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Portland, St. Louis and Seattle.
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