Close To 200 Arrested As OWS Marks 1-Year Anniversary With Marches, Rallies
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Dozens of protesters have been arrested as Occupy Wall Street marks its first anniversary with rallies and marches throughout New York City.
Nearly 200 people have been arrested — including 43 arrests over the weekend, CBS 2 reported. Charges ranged from disorderly conduct to impeding vehicular traffic and trespassing, according to the NYPD.
Just before noon Monday, the crowd of protesters in lower Manhattan had grown to about 500 people.
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Earlier in the morning, a few hundred occupiers took part in a march toward the New York Stock Exchange after rallying at nearby Zuccotti Park.
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“Occupy is a different kind of movement because we’re not trying to work within the political system,” said demonstrator Emily Reynolds. ”We’re trying to build people power and we’re trying to push from the outside.”
“It’s kind of celebratory in a way, but I think people are still focusing on the issues, still trying to make change,” demonstrator Mike Phillips told CBS 2′s Tony Aiello.
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Police dressed in riot gear began lining the streets of the Financial District before dawn armed with batons and plastic handcuffs.
Three protesters were arrested for trying to occupy a bank branch on Broadway, CBS 2′s Aiello reported. NYPD officers were quickly on the scene.
The heavy police presence throughout lower Manhattan offensive to some of the OWS demonstrators.
“This is a peaceful demonstration, so you don’t need cops around here wearing riot gear,” Samiah X said.
However, the NYPD said officers were keeping the peace, arresting those who tried to block entrance to banks and the Stock Exchange.
Some protesters harassed Wall Streeters on their way to work, with one blurting out, “You think you’re a big shot but you’re a coward!”
Another protester had vital information scrawled on his arm in case of arrest.
“We’re here to protest, it’s our First Amendment right so, no, I don’t want to be arrested, but just in case,” Sean Moore said.
“Today is a day of resistance,” added protester Justin Wedes. ”We’ve come down to Wall Street to put our bodies on the line and to make our voices heard and let the world know that Wall Street needs to change and this country needs to change.”
As protesters railed against the rich and lamented income inequality, many were not supportive of their tactics.
“I think there’s more protest than any solutions they’re bringing to the table,” construction worker Ralph Ernesto said.
The grass-roots effort began Sept. 17, 2011 as an occupation of Foley Square near the New York Stock Exchange to protest against the richest 1 percent of America. It targeted mostly banks and financial institutions with activists fighting for the other 99 percent.
Protesters then set up camp at nearby Zuccotti Park and stayed for nearly two months before getting kicked out by the city. A march across the Brooklyn Bridge ended with more than 700 arrests.
After 12 months, occupiers have broken into several smaller groups with different agendas and the crowds are visibly smaller.
That lack of focus was evident on the one-year mark as demonstrators held twin protests. One targeted the nation’s financial system while the other was aimed at cleaning up the environment.
“I think they’re trying to get a lot of stuff done, but they’re not really bringing a lot of people into the movement like they should,” said Financial District resident Ivan Martinez.
Leaders of the movement have said one year isn’t enough time to determine its success or failure, but insist the momentum is still there and isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
“Six hundred and fifty thousand people moved their money from banks to credit unions in one month organized by Occupy,” one organizer told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey. “Hundreds of people around the country had their homes protected and foreclosures stopped with the assistance of Occupy activists.”
“It’s still growing,” Wedes added. ”We’re not going anywhere and we’re going to continue to send our message of economic justice to the 99 percent.”
“We have shifted the conversation away from deficit reduction and onto poverty and onto health care and housing and onto the environment, stuff that really matters to the 99 percent,” demonstrator Peter Rugh said.
Sit-ins were planned Monday at the New York Stock Exchange followed by rallies at Zucccoti Park and Foley Square. Protesters also planned to hold roving demonstrations at various intersections.
There were also marches and rallies planned in more than 30 cities around the world to commemorate the anniversary.
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