Some 80 people have been arrested in lower Manhattan as the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” protest enters its second week. Police have been harsh in quelling the rally. However, not much of their violence is being reported by the mainstream media.
Tensions are rising near Wall Street, where hundreds of demonstrators fed up with the existing financial system have camped out to protest against bank bailouts, the mortgage crisis and social injustice. They also protested the US state of Georgia’s recent execution of Troy Davis.
On Saturday, hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan in the direction of Union Square, where police tried to corral them using orange plastic netting and used tear gas against some of protesters.
Nearly 80 people were arrested in one day, the greatest number since the protest began on September 17.
Protesters’ spokesman Patrick Bruner slammed the police response as “exceedingly violent,” saying that the protesters sought to remain peaceful.
The videos posted online by eyewitnesses show violent actions by police. On one video, female protesters are being penned in and maced by police officers. On another, a young man is being brutally knocked down and arrested for apparently talking to an officer.
Police said that most were arrested for disorderly conduct, obstructing vehicular and pedestrian traffic, resisting arrest and, in one case, assaulting a police officer.
“We’re seeing an absolute erosion of our civil rights,” said 23-year-old student Patrick Bruner, of the “Occupy Wall St.” movement, according to NYDailyNews.
While popular unrest in the Arab countries has been widely covered by mainstream media, the events right in the heart of New York City seem to be underreported. Major news outlets are either not paying it enough attention or making fun of the protesters.
The “Occupy Wall St.” movement had stated beforehand that its mission was to bring 20,000 people “to flood into Lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months.”
According to the organizers, the demonstration was inspired by the massive protests that took place in Egypt, Greece, Spain and Iceland. An “Occupy Wall St.” group on Facebook calls on followers to “deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.”
The protesters claim that they are “the 99 per cent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 per cent.”
Protesters have set up a “wearethe99percent” web page, where those supporting the movement explain why they are protesting.
“We are the 99 per cent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 per cent is getting everything. We are the 99 per cent,” the website reads.
“My parents put themselves into debt so I could get a fancy degree. It cost over a hundred grand and I have no job prospects. I am the 99 per cent,” says a college graduate.
“I have a master’s degree and I am a teacher yet I can barely afford to feed my child because my husband lost his job due to … a chronic illness. His meds alone are more than I make in a month,” says a women from “the 99 per cent.”