Occupy protesters march nationwide; many arrested

November 17, 2011 - 4:15 PM
APTOPIX Occupy Wall Street

An Occupy Wall Street protester yells as he is arrested by the police after blocking an intersection near The New York Stock Exchange in New York, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. Two days after the encampment that sparked the global Occupy protest movement was cleared by authorities, demonstrators marched through New York's financial district and promised a national day of action with mass gatherings in other cities. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators took to the streets around the U.S. on Thursday to mark two months since the movement's birth and signal they aren't ready to quit, despite the breakup of many of their encampments by police.

At least 175 people were arrested in New York, many for blocking streets near the New York Stock Exchange. One man was taken into custody for throwing liquid, possibly vinegar, into the faces of several police officers, authorities said. Police in Los Angeles arrested 23 people.

Demonstrations were also planned or under way in such cities as Washington, St. Louis, Las Vegas and Portland, Ore.

Chanting "All day, all week, shut down Wall Street," more than 1,000 demonstrators gathered near the NYSE and staged sit-ins at several intersections. Helmeted police broke up some of the clusters, but most of the crowd re-assembled in Zuccotti Park, where the encampment that served as the unofficial headquarters of the Occupy movement was broken up by police earlier this week.

"This is a critical moment for the movement given what happened the other night," said Paul Knick, a software engineer from Montclair, N.J., as he marched through the financial district. "It seems like there's a concerted effort to stop the movement, and I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen."

Organizers in New York said protesters would fan out across Manhattan later in the day and head into the subways, then march over the Brooklyn Bridge.

About 500 sympathizers, many of them union members, marched in downtown Los Angeles between the Bank of America tower and Wells Fargo Plaza, chanting, "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out."

In Albany, N.Y., about 250 protesters from Buffalo, Rochester and other encampments arrived by bus to join a demonstration in a downtown park. Police in Portland, Ore., closed a bridge in preparation for a march there and later detained more than a dozen people who sat down on the span.

The street demonstrations marked two months since the Occupy movement sprang to life in New York on Sept. 17. They were planned well before police raided a number of encampments over the past few days, but were seen by some activists as a way to demonstrate their resolve in the wake of the crackdown.

Thursday's demonstration around Wall Street failed to disrupt operations at the stock exchange but brought taxis and delivery trucks to a halt. Police allowed Wall Street workers through the barricades, but only after checking their IDs.

The demonstrators included the actor and director Andre Gregory, who said he hoped the movement would lead to national action on economic injustice.

"It's a possible beginning of something positive," he said.

Police said four officers went to a hospital after a demonstrator threw some kind of liquid in their faces. Many demonstrators were carrying vinegar as an antidote for pepper spray.

Some onlookers applauded the demonstrators from open windows. Others yelled, "Get a job!"

"I don't understand their logic," said Adam Lieberman, as he struggled to navigate police barricades on his way to work at JPMorgan Chase. "When you go into business, you go into business to make as much money as you can. And that's what banks do. They're trying to make a profit."

Gene Williams, a bond trader, joked that he was "one of the bad guys" but said he empathized with the demonstrators: "The fact of the matter is, there is a schism between the rich and the poor, and it's getting wider."

The confrontations followed early-morning arrests in other cities. In Dallas, police evicted dozens of protesters near City Hall, citing health and safety reasons. Eighteen protesters were arrested. Two demonstrators were arrested and about 20 tents removed at the University of California, Berkeley.

City officials and demonstrators were trying to decide what to do about an encampment in Philadelphia, where about 100 protesters were ordered on Wednesday to clear out immediately to make way for a long-planned $50 million plaza renovation at City Hall.

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Associated Press writer Colleen Long in New York contributed to this story.