Nightly News   |  October 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street arrests in NYC

Police cracked down as protesters ventured from their Wall Street area encampment into the heart of Times Square. NBC's Mara Schiavocampo reports.

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LESTER HOLT, anchor: And back here in New York where all this began, around two dozen people were arrested as protesters ventured from their Wall Street area encampment into the heart of Times Square as this now month-old movement takes on an increasingly political tone over tax policies. NBC 's Mara Schiavocampo is there this evening. And, Mara , this looks like one of the biggest gatherings we've seen yet.

MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO reporting: Absolutely it is, Lester . It feels like New Year's Eve here in Times Square . Massive crowds have gathered for what is undoubtedly the Occupy Wall Street movement's largest event yet. Today they occupied Times Square . Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters gathered at the crossroads of the world for what organizers dubbed a party.

Crowd #1: End the war, tax the rich!

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Earlier, more than a thousand demonstrated in Washington Square Park ...

Crowd #2: We got sold out!

SCHIAVOCAMPO: ...and hundreds marched all over New York City , in continued protests against big banks and what they say is an unfair economic system.

Unidentified Woman #1: Kids can't work out of college, they have huge debts. Health care is nonexistent for most people. It's out -- it's off the charges. Libraries are closing. It's a bad time.

Unidentified Woman #2: They're just people from all walks of life, knowing that they have to fight for their country now or we're going to lose it.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: All across the country, groups gathered as part of a global day of protests.

Unidentified Woman #3: This is the time .

SCHIAVOCAMPO: In Atlanta , 200 rallied at the capital.

Crowd #3: Fight back, stand up!

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Pittsburgh streets were closed to accommodate large crowds. Hundreds marched through downtown Phoenix . And in rural Alaska , one woman posted a Facebook photo of her solo protest with the caption, "Find your spot, occupy it."

Unidentified Man #1 and Unidentified Man #2: We need occupiers!

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Organizers say the nationwide events showed just how far the movement has come in less than a month.

Mr. MICHAEL WALERY (Occupy Wall Street): What we're doing here is affecting the whole world, and that is really powerful.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: A new poll shows 54 percent of Americans view the Occupy Wall Street protests favorably. A majority also agree with one of their key issues, 73 percent favor raising taxes on those earning more than a million dollars a year.

Mr. DORIAN WARREN (Columbia University): The Occupy Wall Street protesters have been successful at raising the issues of economic inequality and a broken political system to the national political establishment.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Now, despite the large crowds all around the country, experts note that the movement's real influence won't become clear until the election.

Lester: Mara Schiavocampo in New York for us tonight. Thanks.

HOLT: