Tue, Oct 04, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Protesters dig in for long haul over Wall Street greed

AP, New York

The protesters who have been camping out in Manhattan’s Financial District for more than two weeks eat donated food and keep their laptops running with a portable gas-powered generator. They have a newspaper — the Occupied Wall Street Journal — and a makeshift hospital.

They lack a clear objective, though they speak out against corporate greed, social inequality, global climate change and other concerns, but they are growing in numbers, getting more organized and show no sign of quitting.

The arrests of more than 700 people on Saturday as thousands tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge seemed to pour oil on the rage of those who camped out overnight in Zuccotti Park, a private plaza off Broadway near Wall Street.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstration started out last month with fewer than a dozen college students spending days and nights in Zuccotti Park. It has grown significantly, both in New York City and elsewhere as people across the country display their solidarity.

The protest has drawn activists of diverse ages and occupations, including Jackie Fellner, a marketing manager from Westchester County north of New York City.

“We’re not here to take down Wall Street. It’s not poor against rich. It’s about big money dictating which politicians get elected and what programs get funded,” she said.

On Sunday, a group of New York public school teachers sat in the plaza, including Denise Martinez of Brooklyn. Most students at her school live at or below the poverty level, and her classes are jammed with up to about 50 students.

“These are America’s future workers, and what’s trickling down to them are the problems — the unemployment, the crime,” she said.

Police officers have been a regular sight at the plaza, but New York Police Department (NYPD) spokesman Paul Browne said the protest has not led the department to assign additional officers to the area. The department will continue regular patrols and monitoring, he said.

The New York Fire Department said it had visited the site several times to check for fire safety hazards arising from people living in the plaza, but there have been no major issues.

The protesters have spent most of their time in the plaza, sleeping on air mattresses, holding assemblies to discuss their goals and listening to speakers, including filmmaker Michael Moore and Princeton University professor Cornel West.

On the past two Saturdays, though, they marched to other parts of the city, which led to standoffs with the police. On Sept. 24, about 100 people were arrested and the group put out video which showed some women being hit with pepper spray by a police official. On Saturday, more than 700 people were arrested as the group attempted to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

The NYPD on Sunday released video footage of the arrests. In one of the videos, an official uses a bullhorn to warn the crowd. Marchers can be seen chanting, “Take the bridge.”

Of the most recent arrests, the vast majority had been released, though eight people were still being held on Sunday, three because of outstanding warrants and five others who refused to show any identification.

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