Most of the 700 protesters arrested in the “Occupy Wall Street” march onto the Brooklyn Bridge in New York have been released. The unabashed demonstrators promise more marches on Sunday to slam “corporate domination” and America’s crippled economy.
The protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and summoned to appear in criminal court. The small group still remaining in custody is awaiting identification.
The “Occupy Wall Street” protestors says their campaign will continue with more meetings on Sunday in a park not far from Wall Street, as well as another march on Wall Street itself on Wednesday afternoon.
The mass arrests on Saturday by the New York Police Department came during the protesters’ march onto the Brooklyn Bridge, when thousands of protesters failed to keep to the sidewalks, eventually blocking car traffic. That, at least, is what the NYPD says.
“[There were] several hundred protesters who decided to walk on the roadway and who blocked traffic,” a police spokesman told Agence France-Presse, describing those who were arrested. “Some heeded the warnings, some left, and arrests were made.”
But protesters accuse the police of failing to issue proper warnings or prevent the demonstration from spilling onto the bridge’s heavily trafficked car lanes.
“The interesting thing is the cops could have stopped people from getting on the motorway at any point. You had thousands of people in that march – easily 2,000 or 3,000 – and the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge is not wide,” Joshua Stephens, who participated in the march to the Brooklyn Bridge, told the Huffington Post news website. “The march slowed to almost a stop. The police would have had plenty of opportunity to prevent people [from going] down to the motorway.”
Demonstrators say that once the entire crowd had gotten onto the bridge, it was blocked from both ends by the police. The officers started netting people, putting plastic handcuffs on their hands and taking them to jail in what many later described as a clash.
“I saw police standing there,” said Stephens. “It was all very chill. They were definitely at ease. It was almost like everything was as it should be. Then, once we were on the bridge, all these cops came out of nowhere with flex ties and paddy wagons – that seemed like a whole separate cadre of cops.”
As the “Occupy Wall Street” protest enters its third week, it has gained nationwide support, with unions joining in. Still, little apparent support has come from mainstream US media, which mostly plays down the importance of the event or toes the police line, omitting scenes of police brutality and questioning the credibility of the protesters.
‘Police still cracking down on us!’
Television journalist Ryan Devereaux, who took part in the protest on the Brooklyn Bridge, told RT that the “Occupy Wall Street” protests are involving more and more people while police brutality is not subsiding.
“After last weekend’s crackdown, the amount of attention that ‘Occupy Wall Street’ has received has been unprecedented, and the numbers this weekend were far larger than they were last weekend,” he said. “Many did not believe that there would be another dramatic confrontation this weekend after what happened last weekend, after four women were pepper-sprayed while they were corralled by the police, after the NYPD used heavy-handed tactics, punching some protesters, I think many people did not expect that there would be something like that again this weekend. Though I have no reports of pepper-spraying, there were aggressive arrests and there were thousands of people stopped and hundreds arrested.”
Police violence toward “Occupy Wall Street” protesters was an effort to shut down popular dissent by Americans, argued Sarah Flounders from the International Action Center.
“The US government claims to speak for democracy all over the world while dropping bombs on people in many, many countries, and here at home, when people are involved in democratic protest and demonstrations against the domination of Wall Street, representing really the interests of the vast majority of people – the latest polls today show that 75 percent of the population is sympathetic to these protests – the police shut it down,” she told RT.
Tony Gosling, an investigative journalist from Bristol, said the “Occupy Wall Street” movement is a brilliant idea.
“The people who have been running the American financial system over the last 10-20 years have clearly made a mess of it,” he declared. “What had happened is, particularly American people, but also others of us in the West, have been caught in a financial rat trap. The lives of billions of people are being affected.”