All eyes are on the group Occupy Wall Street as they fight against corporate greed among other issues. The protesters have been camped out in Zuccotti Park, a private plaza in New York City’s financial district, for nearly two weeks, staging various marches. On Saturday they took their fight to the Brooklyn Bridge, where at least 700 protesters were arrested.
Police say the group ignored warnings to stay in the pedestrian pathway and spilled onto the roadway. Some sat on the roadway while others chanted and yelled at police from the pedestrian walkaway above. Police used orange netting to restrain the group from heading further down the bridge, which is currently under construction. The ruckus shut down a lane of traffic for several hours on Saturday.
The majority of those arrested were given citations for disorderly conduct and were released, police said. Before Saturday’s standoff, earlier clashes with police have resulted in about 100 arrests. Many were the subject of homemade videos posted online, one of which showing a group of women being shot with pepper spray by an NYPD deputy inspector, which helped ignite the interest of national media outlets. Earlier in the day, two separate protests — one for poverty led by the United Way and another by a group against genetically modified foods — made for an increasingly chaotic scene.
Occupy Wall Street’s grievances are rooted in fighting against corporate greed, bank bailouts and the mortgage crisis that left thousands of Americans practically homeless overnight. In a statement on its website, the group writes: “We are unions, students, teachers, veterans, first responders, families, the unemployed and underemployed. We are all races, sexes and creeds. We are the majority. We are the 99 percent. And we will no longer be silent.” Erica Larkins, a Columbia University graduate student with student loan debt who marched the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, told the Associated Press, "I don't think we're asking for much, just to wake up every morning not worrying whether we can pay the rent, or whether our next meal will be rice and beans again. I think everyone is just hopeful that people will wake up a bit and realize that the more we speak up, the more the people that do have the authority to make changes in this world listen."
The New York protests have spurred other movements around the country, including protests in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Boston and Los Angeles on Saturday, though the demands of protesters there remain unclear. The protests have been mostly peaceful, and the movement has shown no signs of losing steam, with crowds of as many as a few thousand strong showing up in support.
Seasoned activists have predicted the ad-hoc protests could set the stage for future organizers of larger and more cohesive demonstrations, even motivating those on the sidelines to speak out against injustices.
(Photo: Mario Tama/GettyImages)