Image: Amy Barnes protests as police move in to clear a downtown street during an Occupy Atlanta demonstration
David Goldman  /  AP
Amy Barnes protests as police move in to clear a downtown street during an Occupy Atlanta demonstration late on Saturday.
NBC, and news services
updated 11/6/2011 5:51:05 AM ET 2011-11-06T10:51:05

Protesters marched in cities across the United States on Saturday in support of Occupy Wall Street, with a focus on asking bank customers to move their money to credit unions.

In Atlanta, police arrested 20 people after a protest rally in a city park spilled onto the streets and officers converged on them on motorcycles, riding horseback and in riot gear.

A crowd of several hundred protesters had gathered at Woodruff Park, the scene of about 50 arrests of demonstrators last month, and set up tents. Organizers had said they planned to stay overnight despite warnings from the mayor and police that anyone there past the 11 p.m. ET, NBC station WXIA showed in a live feed.

But as 11 p.m. approached, protesters began decamping peacefully. Dozens of officers were on hand, herding protesters away from the park's entrances and installing barricades around it. A police helicopter flew overhead.

While most protesters left the park, a few people stayed behind. And as demonstrators poured onto Peachtree Street and downtown, a police officer on a motorcycle drove into the crowd, sparking a confrontation between officers and protesters that turned tense at times.

'Occupy' reaches into living rooms through TV ad

Police officers in riot gear and on horseback filled the street, warning protesters to stay on the sidewalk. Many protesters shouted insults at the officers, chanting slogans such as, "Put the pigs back in their sty, we the people occupy." Police made a number of arrests, mostly people who disobeyed orders to stay on the sidewalk.

Police issued a statement early Sunday saying 19 people who either refused to leave the park after the 11 p.m. closing time or blocked nearby roads were arrested. The statement also said another person accused of assaulting a motorcycle officer on patrol was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and obstruction.

Denver protest
One of the biggest protests was in Denver, where about 1,500 people marched to a new site with police escort, reported. The move to Skyline Park was done so that the protest could not interfere with a larger Veterans Day march, the Post reported.  There were no arrests, the website reported.

At least 20 protesters were arrested outside the Manhattan Supreme Court building about 4 p.m., WNBC reported.

The confrontation occurred when more than 100 people marched 10 blocks from the Zuccotti Park encampment to Foley Square, and some tried to get onto the court steps, the New York Post reported.

In Florida, A large rally that began about 9:30 a.m. in downtown Orlando was scheduled to go until Saturday midnight. Orlando police said they did not have a crowd size estimate, but WESH 2 News staff who covered the event estimated at least 300 participants.

In various cities, Occupy activists were pushing "Bank Transfer Day" — urging customers to more their money to credit unions on Saturday.

There were more than 79,000 supporters on the "Bank Transfer Day" Facebook page as of Friday. The movement has already helped beat back Bank of America's plan to start charging a $5 debit card fee.

Video: Bank customers revolt in 'transfer day' (on this page)

It's not clear to what extent the banking industry's about-face on debit card fees will extinguish the anger driving the movement. But many supporters say their actions are about far more than any single complaint.

"It's too little, too late," said Kristen Christian, the 27-year-old Los Angeles small business owner who started "Bank Transfer Day." She already opened accounts at two credit unions in preparation for cutting ties with Bank of America this weekend.

"Consumers are waking up and seeing that they have options," she said.

Even with its public support, however, it's not likely that any account closings that take place on Saturday will make a big dent with industry titans such as Chase, which is the largest bank in the country with some 26.5 million checking accounts.

But the call to action shows just how incensed consumers were at the prospect of a debit card fee at a time of so much economic uncertainty. Even those who were appeased by the industry's reversal may have tapped into a new sense of empowerment.

That's the case for Dan Blakemore, a Bank of America customer for the past 10 years. He said he no longer plans to close his checking account now that the debit fee has been scrapped. But he'll be on the lookout for any other changes that might hit his wallet.

"I'm pretty confident they're going to find some way to get that extra money," said Blakemore, a 28-year-old who works for a nonprofit fundraiser in New York City. "I'll just have to see if it offends my sensibility enough to close the account."

In other developments Saturday:

Washington, D.C.: Police said that a driver will not be charged for striking three people taking part in an Occupy DC protest in downtown Washington. Lt. Christopher Micciche of the D.C. police said the driver was not cited because he had a green light when his vehicle struck the three on Friday night. He said witnesses told police that the three pedestrians "either ran toward or jumped in front of the moving vehicle." He said one pedestrian jumped on the hood of the car. One of them was cited for being in the roadway. Officer Araz Alali said Saturday that all three were transported to local hospitals and released.

Oakland: The second Iraq war veteran hospitalized after a confrontation at an Occupy Oakland protest wasn't participating in the demonstration when he was injured and arrested, a friend and colleague said. Kayvan Sabeghi, 32, had joined in a march the day before but was only trying to get home when he was beaten by police early Thursday, said Esther Goodstal, who co-owns a brewery with Sabeghi in nearby El Cerrito. An Oakland police spokesman didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Anchorage, Alaska: Two protesters dressed in hazmat suits were arrested on trespassing charges while loudly cleaning up fake money spilled by Occupy Anchorage demonstrators outside a Wells Fargo bank branch in the the 5th Avenue Mall downtown, NBC station KTUU reported.

Vancouver, B.C.: A woman in her 20s was pronounced dead at a hospital after being discovered in an "unresponsive" condition in a tent at the at the Occupy Vancouver encampment, police said. A protest organizer said the death appeared to be due to a drug overdose.

New York City: They may still be laboring to change the quality of life for the 99 percent, but Wall Street protesters have made some progress near their Manhattan park encampment: They now have toilets, reported.

"Toilets: Installed," read an announcement on the Occupy Wall Street website Friday.

The three toilets were installed at a building two blocks from Zuccotti Park, where protesters have been camped for more than a month.

Their installation was announced along with other efforts to improve the quality of life for both the protesters and residents through sanitation, security and noise control. Meanwhile,

This article contains reporting from staff, NBC News and The Associated Press.

Video: Bank customers revolt in 'transfer day'

  1. Transcript of: Bank customers revolt in 'transfer day'

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: Now to a wave of discontent over rising bank fees that turned into a wave of action today as people all across the country answered a grassroots call to switch their money from big corporate banks to their local credit unions . What started with a single Facebook posting from a fed up bank customer in Los Angeles apparently touched a nerve, culminating today in what's being called National Bank Transfer Day . In just the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands have apparently made the switch as this latest movement becomes part of a widening public outcry against corporate profits. NBC 's Stephanie Gosk has more.

    STEPHANIE GOSK reporting: In street protests around the country, Florida , New York , Texas , big banks got a beating.

    Unidentified Woman: Bank of America !

    Crowd: Bad for America !

    GOSK: Bank customers tired of fees like Bank of America 's recent proposed and then withdrawn debit card fee, are jumping ship. Bank transfer day was started by the owner of an art gallery in LA , herself fed up with corporate banking.

    Ms. KRISTEN CHRISTIAN (Bank Transfer Day Founder): Loans, credit cards , any business you have with a major bank, to shift that to a not-for-profit credit union .

    GOSK: Unlike banks, credit unions do not make a profit. Checking is often free, interest rates on savings are higher and there is more face time. Since Bank of America tried to impose a monthly debit card fee, 650,000 Americans have switched their checking accounts to credit unions . That's more than all of last year.

    Source: Credit Union National Association

    GOSK: In a credit union in New York City today, there was a steady stream of new customers like Kim Gallagher .

    Ms. KIM GALLAGHER: I watched one bank rep hug two different people today . Thank you, Mary Ann .

    GOSK: Gallagher owns a pet grooming business just up the street. She is pulling all of her business out of Chase and depositing her money here.

    Ms. GALLAGHER: OK. I feel empowered. These -- the guys that work here, the people that work here are my neighbors. They know my business from walking by it.

    GOSK: So credit unions may sound great, but there is a catch. Big banks have branches and ATMs all over. If credit union customers use one of these, they'll face additional charges. Credit unions also have fewer products and business transactions can take more time. For the moment, the increase in their customers is not large enough to drastically affect profits at huge banks like Chase or Bank of America . Still, experts say this is a real example of the rising anger at big business turning into measurable action.

    Ms. VERA GIBBONS (MSNBC Financial Analyst): I think now in this weak economy, consumers are saying enough already. The final straw was that monthly debit card charge.

    GOSK: Even with that proposed charge now gone, for those taking part in Bank Transfer Day , the damage has been done. Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, New York .

Data: Occupy Wall Street


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