Hundreds of police barricaded the New York Stock Exchange as Occupy Wall Street protesters swarmed the Financial District for the movement’s one-year anniversary, with over 180 reportedly arrested.
Police made 180 arrests by Monday evening, primarily for “disorderly conduct” or impeding “vehicular or pedestrian traffic.”
Witnesses had previously reported on Twitter that demonstrators were being arrested for “blocking pedestrian traffic.” A well known local artist named Molly Crapabble was sitting in a police van when she wrote on her Twitter page that people were being “yanked off of the sidewalk” by police.
The final tally will ultimately be higher, as at least seven people were arrested after falling on the Bank of America building later in the afternoon. Several more arrests were subsequently reported after demonstrators marched to the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan and the adjacent Goldman Sachs Tower. Around half a dozen protesters staged a sit-in protest outside of the Goldman Sachs headquarters and refused orders by police to disperse.
The protesters’ initial plan was to surround the New York Stock Exchange and hold a sit-down protest, though the heavy handed police response redirected protesters to Bowling Green Park where the iconic Charging Bull sculpture is located. Protesters later moved on to Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan, where activists reported up to 1,000 peaceful demonstrators had amassed. By early afternoon, union leaders and activists had already begun streaming into Zuccotti Park – the epicenter of the OWS movement – with strident police sirens marking the heavy presence of the NYPD in the area.
Around 1000 supporters of OWS met at four separate meeting points to mark the movement’s one-year anniversary early Monday morning. Some 200 people gathering in Zuccotti Park – the movement’s birthplace – by 7:00am local time, and later began marching south along Broadway. When the group was confronted by several police officers at the entrance to Wall Street, several of them sat down in protest. Upon refusing to remove, they were arrested.
A group of 50 protesters entered the lobby of the JPMorgan Chase building, and eight were arrested, New York Daily News reported.
The OWS movement, sparked by protests last year against corporate greed, income inequality and the corrupting influence of money in politics, was inactive for several months. Monday’s protest comes in the wake of three days of civic activism intended to breathe new life into the movement, ahead of its one-year anniversary.
After the movement set up tents in New York City’s Zucotti Park last September, OWS spawned a number of similar ‘Occupy’ protest groups across the US, and in major cities around the world. The group’s creators dubbed themselves the voice of the ‘99 percent,’ and protested chiefly against the wide gap between rich and poor in the US.
The Occupy movement was dealt a blow in November when a police crackdown broke up the group’s main encampment at Zuccotti Park, with some 200 people arrested in the process. Many of the group’s public protests likewise saw mass arrests, and related reports of police brutality against activists.