US & Canada

Occupy Wall Street: Arrests at New York two-month rally

Dozens of people have been arrested in New York as hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters attempted to march on the New York Stock Exchange.

At a rally to mark two months of protest, police blocked streets and protesters massed at junctions on the edge of the city's financial district.

Scuffles broke out, with police dragging some protesters away.

Protests are planned for cities across the US, two days after police cleared a camp in Zuccotti Park, New York.

In New York, city officials said they expected the number of demonstrators could reach the tens of thousands.

A heavy police presence could be seen around the streets near the stock exchange, with community affairs officers and riot police on duty.

'Bad guys'

"You do not have a parade permit! You are blocking the street!" a police officer told protesters through a bullhorn.

A collection of protesters were arrested after they sat down in an intersection, while others were arrested as they tried to get closer to the stock exchange.

"All day, all week, shut down Wall Street!" the crowd chanted.

Police erected a barricade at the entrance to Wall Street, and only people with employee identification were being allowed past the barricade.

Gene Williams, a bond trader, joked to the Associated Press that he was "one of the bad guys" but said he empathised with the demonstrators.

"They have a point in a lot of ways," he said. "The fact of the matter is, there is a schism between the rich and the poor and it's getting wider."

Mike Tupea, a taxi driver and Romanian immigrant, had been stuck amid the traffic and protesters for 40 minutes.

"I have to make a living. I pay $100 for 12 hours for this cab. I am losing money every minute,'" he told Reuters. "I have all my sympathies for this movement but let me do my living, let working people make a living."

Thursday's event was planned before a police raid earlier this week on the New York Occupy camp.

'Direct action'

As well as the rally, organiser called for demonstrations in 16 New York subway stations at 15:00 (20:00 GMT), and a march from City Hall to the Brooklyn Bridge two hours later - although police have said this will not be allowed.

New York Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson told reporters the authorities were braced for large crowds of protesters to congest subways and bridges.

"We take it seriously. Our forces will be deployed accordingly."

After Tuesday's surprise pre-dawn raid, police allowed demonstrators to return but banned them from setting up camp again. Numbers dwindled to less than two dozen overnight.

Some of the 200 protesters detained during the eviction appeared in court on Wednesday.

"This movement is really not about tents as much as it is about an idea and we're keeping the idea through a number of direct action things planned [for Thursday]," protest spokesman Ed Needham was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Dorli Rainey, 84, was hit by pepper spray in Seattle on Tuesday night

In other developments on Wednesday:

  • There was outrage after an 84-year-old Seattle woman was hit by police pepper spray during a march the night before
  • Up to 80 protesters were detained after they stormed a San Francisco branch of Bank of America and tried to set up camp in the lobby
  • In San Diego, nearly 10 people were arrested as police tried to dismantle an encampment in the city centre
  • Police in South Carolina began arresting Occupy Columbia demonstrators at the statehouse grounds
  • In London, activists outside St Paul's Cathedral were ordered to leave by Thursday evening or face legal action

A number of similar encampments have been removed in US cities in recent days.

Scores of arrests were made as police removed tents in Oakland, California and Burlington, Vermont.

But evictions went peacefully elsewhere, including Atlanta, Georgia; Portland, Oregon; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

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