March 18, 2012 (AP)
March 18, 2012 (AP)
Protesters chanted and cheered down Wall Street to mark six months of the Occupy movement, ending the day with a police confrontation and numerous arrests at the park where the nationwide demonstrations against economic inequality began.
Some protesters locked arms and sat down in Zuccotti Park after police announced just before midnight that the park was closed. Officers poured in, forcing out most of the crowd and surrounding a small group that stayed behind.
Several people were arrested, police said. A bus carried away about a dozen demonstrators in plastic handcuffs.
New York Police Det. Brian Sessa said the tipping point came when the protesters started breaking the park rules.
One female under arrest had difficulty breathing and was taken away in an ambulance.
Hours earlier, hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore made an appearance.
Steps from the New York Stock Exchange, they danced and chanted, “We are unstoppable.”
The Occupy movement has had a far lower profile in the months since authorities in many U.S. cities closed down the protest camps scattered in downtown parks and plazas. The Zuccotti Park encampment was shut down in November
Stacy Hessler held up a cardboard sign that read, “Spring is coming,” a reference, she said, both to the Arab Spring demonstrations that rocked the Middle East last year and to the warm weather that is returning to New York. She said she believes the nicer weather will bring crowds back to Occupy protests.
Some have questioned whether the group can regain its momentum. This month, the finance accounting group in New York reported that just about $119,000 remained in Occupy’s bank account – the equivalent of about two weeks’ worth of expenses.
But Hessler said the group has remained strong, and she said she was satisfied with what Occupy protesters have accomplished.
“It’s changed the language,” she said. “It’s brought out a lot of issues that people are talking about. … And that’s the start of change.”
As always, the protesters focused on a variety of concerns, but for Tom Hagan, his sights were on the giants of finance.
“Everyone from the banks to the rating agencies, they all knew they were doing wrong. … But they did it anyway. Because the money was too big,” Hagan said.