Occupy Wall Street protesters celebrated the movement’s anniversary on Monday by clogging intersections in New York City’s financial district, marching to the beat of drums that were a familiar refrain last year.
Protesters roamed around the lower Manhattan financial district all morning in groups of a few dozen each, from one intersection to another and back again, chanting loudly about the ills of Wall Street. In total, there were a few hundred protesters scattered throughout the city. More than 180 of them were arrested by early Monday evening, mostly on disorderly conduct charges.
The day’s events lacked the heft of Occupy protests last year, when protesters gathered by the thousands, but Occupiers were upbeat as they spread out in their old stomping grounds, giddy at the prospect of being together again. They brushed off any suggestions that the movement had petered out.
“This is a movement. It’s only been a year,” protester Justin Stone Diaz of Brooklyn said.
“It’s going to take many years for it to develop and figure out exactly who we are,” he said.
However, the movement is now a shadow of its mighty infancy, when a group of young people harnessed the power of a disillusioned nation and took to the streets chanting about corporate greed and inequality.
A familiar Statue of Liberty puppet was back, bobbing in the crowd above protesters’ heads.
Protesters in wheelchairs blocked a road and chanted: “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street,” before they were steered off the road by police.
Zuccotti Park, the former home of the encampment, was encircled by metal police barricades lined with police officers standing watch.
Hamza Sinanaj, a 30-year-old airplane mechanic who works in upstate New York as a security guard, said he was among the first Occupy protesters in September last year.
“I felt that protest was long overdue, and I’m back today,” he said, holding up a sign that read: “America Rise Up.”
He was staying at his sister’s home in the Bronx, but was not sure he would be there on Monday night because he was “ready to be arrested, to sit on the street and be arrested.”
Events were planned in more than 30 cities worldwide.
In San Francisco, local Occupy groups planned to occupy 10 banks across the city and then hold an evening rally honoring foreclosure fighters, people who have been helping residents stave off foreclosures by squatting or holding sit-ins, outside the Bank of America Merrill Lynch building in the Financial District, the site of previous protests. They then planned to march.
Last year, hundreds of protesters camped out for weeks at Justin Herman Plaza across from the city’s Ferry Building, a magnet for tourists and in the heart of the Financial District, where nearby businesses were affected.
In Oakland, California, a metal fence surrounds the City Hall lawn that was the hub of several violent clashes between demonstrators and police during fall Occupy-inspired protests that attracted international attention.
Banks including Citigroup and Wells Fargo have said they are committed to having open dialogue and working with their customers during difficult economic times.