Friday, 18 November 2011

Brooklyn Bridge

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose chants against corporate greed resounded in Lower Manhattan, marched peacefully across the Brooklyn Bridge, six weeks after mass arrests there thrust them into the national spotlight.

Crowds that appeared to number in the thousands took part in yesterday’s events, which began with unsuccessful attempts to disrupt the New York Stock Exchange. Through the day, about 300 arrests were made, police spokesman Paul Browne said by e-mail. Seven officers and 10 protesters were injured, Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a late afternoon briefing.

“Most protesters have, in all fairness, acted responsibly,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, said at Bellevue Hospital after he visited an injured police officer. “It is not an overwhelming number. The police were able to handle it.”

The bridge marchers, greeted by honking cars and cheering people, were accompanied by police, in contrast to a rally Oct. 1, when officers arrested more than 700 demonstrators. “Please stay on the sidewalk and thank you for your cooperation,” one officer said to marchers through loudspeakers.

The Occupy Wall Street protests, which began in New York, have spread to cities on four continents, including London, Sydney, Toronto, Rome and Tokyo. The demonstrators refer to themselves as “the 99 percent,” a reference to Nobel Prize- winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s study showing the richest 1 percent control 40 percent of U.S. wealth.

The day began with about 1,000 protesters marching through the Financial District to the stock exchange from Zuccotti Park, where protesters first set up camp Sept. 17. Metal barricades blocked streets and police asked office workers to show identification. The stock market opened on time. Subway service proceeded without a hitch, transit officials said.

Participants later headed north to Union Square, where they joined students who complained of high-interest college loans. Police on foot and on motorcycles attempted to keep the streets clear. Shoppers in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood stared from store windows and snapped pictures.

“It’s a huge waste of taxpayer money to pay all these police overtime for two months,” Ken Polcari, a floor trader and managing director at ICAP Corporates, said by telephone from the exchange, where he’s worked for 28 years. “The Big Board isn’t going to succumb to a bunch of kids with no message.”

At one point, police wrestled with protesters outside 60 Wall St., the U.S. headquarters of Deutsche Bank AG, as workers recorded the action with smartphones. One protester’s sign read: “Debt -- the only thing still made in the U.S.”

The city has spent about $6 million in connection with the protests, Kelly said. That doesn’t count the Nov. 15 ouster of the demonstrators at Zuccotti Park and yesterday’s deployment of thousands of officers, many getting overtime pay.

Howard Wolfson, Bloomberg’s deputy for government relations, said at a City Hall briefing Nov. 16 that forces would be deployed to deal with tens of thousands of people “aimed at significant disruption.”

“I’m definitely eager to show the world and the city that we still care about the occupation,” Mark Greif, 36, who teaches English at the New School, said as he gathered with others at Zuccotti Park yesterday. “I’m hoping people will see the commitment of American citizens to having something done about Wall Street excesses.”

In Washington, a few hundred protesters and union members gathered on the sidewalk of the Key Bridge at the start of the evening rush hour, waving signs and shouting slogans calling for jobs. At least 60 police, some in riot helmets, stood by as demonstrators proceeded without blocking traffic.

In Philadelphia, demonstrators marched from their campsite near City Hall to the Market Street bridge spanning the Schuylkill River. Police arrested 23 who linked arms and blocked a heavily trafficked four-lane road, while other protesters shouted, “Arrest Wall Street, let them go!”

In upstate New York, buses from Rochester and Buffalo brought protesters to join Occupy Albany. Signs called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to reconsider his opposition to raising taxes on those who earn $1 million or more.

Chicago police arrested 40 demonstrators who sat on the LaSalle Street Bridge and blocked traffic. The demonstrators, wearing blue jackets inscribed with the slogan “Jobs Not Cuts,” were removed by police.

Los Angeles police arrested 72 protesters, including 47 who disobeyed orders to leave Bank of America Plaza in the afternoon, and 21 who locked arms in a downtown intersection, Officer Gregory Baek said. The protests were “mostly peaceful,” according to a police statement.

The Los Angeles Police Department hasn’t made plans to break up the Occupy Los Angeles encampment on the lawn of City Hall, Baek said by telephone last night. Brooklyn Bridge

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