Video: Protesting Wall Street turns chaotic

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    >>> emotions running high in new york city after a tense confrontation between police and appropriate testers last night on the brooklyn bridge . a march organized by the group, occupy wall street , turned chaotic leading to the arrest of hundreds by the nypd. nbc's michelle franzen joins us from loper manhattan where protests continue tonight. michelle, set the scene for us?

    >> reporter: well, kate, protestors continue to gather at a park nearby wall street . hear them singing at this hour. they say they will also camp out here indefinitely. their message, the economy and big corporations, still taking shape. but drawing attention with each day. protestors fed up with the economy and social inequality took to the streets again today. including this former marine who despite having a job worries about his future.

    >> i have two degrees, i barely make enough money to pay my ways.

    >> reporter: several hundred turned out in one day. after some 700 were arrest ford blocking traffic on new york's brooklyn bridge . growing tensions along with the movement that has taken off in the past few weeks, with protests spreading to other cities around the country. labor experts say overseas have empowered protestors to speak out.

    >> those revolutions led by young people . i think they have been unemployed and wondering what to do. i think that is a nother say inspiration for why they're sitting in now.

    >> we are nowhere on the same near level and nowhere facing the same kind of opposition. but we can still be inspired by that. i think a lot of us are.

    >> reporter: even before the protests began, new york's mayor spoke out about those on his weekly radio show .

    >> you have a lot of kids, graduating college can't find jobs. that's what happened in cairo and madrid. you don't want those kinds of riots here.

    >> reporter: near wall street a park serves as base camp where the grassroots efforts of community organizing and traditional media have merged with savvy social networking .

    >> we become more and more organized each day, building the infrastructure. every day we get bigger and find out the infrastructure has been adequate.

    >> reporter: growing pains, but a message grabbing at tension of more people like donna neil who came with her family to show support and voice her own dissatisfaction. and the crowds continue to grow here at the park tonight, kate, and will so later this week. they now have the back of some major unions and those members are expected to turn out and show their solidarity at a rally this coming week.

    >> michelle franzen reporting tonight. big

NBC News and news services
updated 10/2/2011 3:02:33 AM ET 2011-10-02T07:02:33

New York City police say about 700 protesters have been arrested after they swarmed the Brooklyn Bridge and blocked traffic lanes for several hours.

On the second week of protests by the Occupy Wall Street movement, a large group of marchers broke off from others on the bridge's pedestrian walkway and headed across the Brooklyn-bound lanes.

Image: Wall Street protest arrests
Mario Tama  /  Getty Images
Police arrest demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement after they attempted to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on the motorway on Saturday.
Follow latest developments on Breakingnews.com

Police say demonstrators spilled onto the roadway Saturday night after being told to stay on the pedestrian pathway. They face charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Some of the protesters said that authorities had tricked, trapped and then arrested them, according to The New York Times.

"The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us onto the roadway," Occupy Wall Street media coordinator Jesse Myerson told the newspaper.

A majority of the people arrested were given citations and released, The Associated Press reported.

Both the walkway and Brooklyn-bound car lanes were shut to traffic, snarling traffic. Police reopened the bridge at 8:05 p.m. EDT.

'We are not criminals'
Witnesses described a chaotic scene on the famous suspension bridge as a sea of police officers surrounded the protesters using orange mesh netting.

Protesters speaking out against corporate greed and social inequality took their "solidarity march" to Brooklyn, but battled in a war of words against officers, chanting "We are not criminals" and "Let us go!"

Some protesters tried to get away as officers started handcuffing members of the group. Dozens of protesters were seen handcuffed and sitting on the span as three buses were called in to take them away, witnesses and organizers said.

The New York Times reported a few protesters had "clambered dangerously up the structure of the bridge to get to the wooden pedestrian walkway, which is about 15 feet above the road."

Erin Larkins, a graduate student at Columbia University who says she and her boyfriend have $130,000 combined in student loan debt, was among the thousands of protesters on the bridge. She said a friend persuaded her to join the march and she's glad she did.

"I don't think we're asking for much, just to wake up every morning not worrying whether we can pay the rent, or whether our next meal will be rice and beans again," Larkins wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

"No one is expecting immediate change. I think everyone is just hopeful that people will wake up a bit and realize that the more we speak up, the more the people that do have the authority to make changes in this world listen."

The march started about 3:30 p.m. EDT from the protesters' camp in Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan near the former World Trade Center. Members of the group have vowed to stay at the park through the winter.

The Occupy Wall Street group was joined by various unions, including the Transit Workers Union and the United Federation of Teachers, in the march to Brooklyn.

Image: An Occupy Wall Street protester
Jessica Rinaldi  /  Reuters
An Occupy Wall Street protester lays with his dog on a mattress in Zuccotti Park in New York on Saturday.

Celebrity support
In addition to what they view as excessive force and unfair treatment of minorities, including Muslims, the movement is also protesting against home foreclosures, high unemployment and the 2008 bailouts.

Filmmaker Michael Moore and actress Susan Sarandon have stopped by the protesters' camp, which is plastered with posters with anti-Wall Street slogans and has a kitchen and library, to offer their support.

On Friday evening, more than 1,000 demonstrators, including representatives of labor organizations, held a peaceful march to police headquarters a few blocks north of City Hall to protest what they said was a heavy-handed police response the previous week. No arrests were reported.

A week ago, police arrested about 80 members of Occupy Wall Street near the Union Square shopping district as the marchers swarmed onto oncoming traffic.

A police commander doused a handful of women with pepper spray in an incident captured on video and spread via the Internet, galvanizing the loosely organized protest movement.

The group has gained support among some union members. The United Federation of Teachers and the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which has 38,000 members, are among those pledging solidarity.

The unions could provide important organizational and financial support for the largely leaderless movement.

Similar protests are sprouting in other cities, including Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

NBC News New York and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report, as did Reuters and The Associated Press.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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