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Police: 50 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested

/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

Police arrested protesters who sat on the ground and blocked traffic into New York City's financial district on Thursday, part of a day of mass gatherings in response to efforts to break up Occupy Wall Street camps nationwide.

Police in riot helmets hauled several protesters to their feet and handcuffed them at an intersection one block from Wall Street.

"All day, all week, shut down Wall Street!" the crowd chanted.

By 10 a.m., police spokesman Paul Browne said, about 50 people had been arrested at various locations in the financial district, mainly for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Hundreds of protesters thronged intersections around the financial district, an area of narrow, crooked streets running between stately sandstone buildings housing banks, brokerage houses and the New York Stock Exchange.

"You do not have a parade permit! You are blocking the street!" a police officer told protesters through a bullhorn.

A few blocks away, a separate group of about 50 protesters sat in a circle on the ground and said they would not budge.

The congestion brought taxis and delivery trucks to a halt. Police were allowing Wall Street workers through the barricades, but only after checking their IDs.

The protest marked two months since the Occupy Wall Street Movement sprang to life on Sept. 17 with a failed attempt to pitch a protest camp in front of the New York Stock Exchange. After police kept them out of Wall Street, the protesters pitched a camp in nearby Zuccotti Park, across from the World Trade Center site.

On Tuesday police raided Zuccotti Park and cleared out dozens of tents, tarps and sleeping bags.

"This is a critical moment for the movement given what happened the other night," Paul Knick, 44, a software engineer from Montclair, N.J., said as he marched through the financial district with other protesters on Thursday. "It seems like there's a concerted effort to stop the movement and I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen."

Similar protests were planned around the county.

In Dallas, police evicted dozens of protesters from their campsite near City Hall citing public safety and hygiene issues. They arrested 18 protesters who refused to leave.

Organizers in New York said protesters would fan out across Manhattan later on Thursday and head to subways, then gather downtown and march over the Brooklyn bridge.

Passer-by Gene Williams, a 57-year-old bond trader, joked that he was "one of the bad guys" but that he empathized with the demonstrators.

"They have a point in a lot of ways," he said. "The fact of the matter is, there is a schism between the rich and the poor and it's getting wider."

New York City officials said they had not spoken to demonstrators but were aware of the plans.

"The protesters are calling for a massive event aimed at disrupting major parts of the city," Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said. "We will be prepared for that."

Some of the latest developments in other Occupy protests:

NEW YORK Occupy protest organizers promised Thursday would be their biggest event yet. A New York deputy mayor said officials were bracing for tens of thousands of people at various locations who could clog subways and bridges.

It was unclear Wednesday how reliable that estimate was. Previous protests in New York have consisted of several hundred people.

The encampment in Zuccotti Park, considered the epicenter of the global Occupy movement, was cleared out by police early Tuesday, leaving the movement in the nation's largest city without a permanent home. The day of marches was planned before the raid.

Some of the 200 or so protesters arrested in the raid were arraigned Wednesday, while dozens more arrested during an Oct. 1 march had court dates down the hall.

Protesters were also told they could retrieve belongings confiscated in the raid from a Manhattan sanitation garage. The mound of items ranged from books to tents to clothing.

WASHINGTON STATE An 84-year-old woman has become a face of the national Occupy Wall Street movement after she was hit with pepper spray during a Seattle march.

A photo of Dorli Rainey with the chemical irritant dripping from her chin quickly went viral, becoming one of the most striking images from the protests that have taken place in cities across the globe.

Rainey has been active in Seattle's liberal politics for decades and once ran for mayor. She said Wednesday that she showed up at the downtown protest the previous day to show support.

Police said demonstrators were blocking a downtown intersection.

Rainey was not among the six people arrested.

Mayor Mike McGinn is apologizing to some protesters who were pepper sprayed during a march and said he has spoken to Rainey.

NEVADA In a city that celebrates behaving badly, Occupy Las Vegas protesters are touting civil obedience and government cooperation as anti-Wall Street efforts elsewhere have turned to violence and police confrontations.

Las Vegas demonstrators have sought approval from government leaders and police before protesting or setting up a camp site. They called off a protest during President Barack Obama's visit to Las Vegas last month because police asked them to do so. And they have created a system of protest rules that ban, among other things, law-breaking and hate signs.

The good behavior in Las Vegas and other Occupy efforts across Nevada is even more noteworthy because Nevadans may have the most cause to rage against the machine. The state tops the nation in foreclosures and unemployment and entire neighborhoods have been overtaken by vacant homes and storefronts.

But while protesters in other cities riot and rage, the Vegas group is hosting a series of free foreclosure mediation workshops for homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages.

Organizers insist their anti-greed message has a better chance of spreading if they aren't labeled violent anarchists.

PENNSYLVANIA Philadelphia officials have told protesters camping out next to City Hall to leave because of the "imminent" start of a long-planned renovation project.

Mayor Michael Nutter's office said Wednesday the city has posted an official notice saying the $50 million renovation work at Dilworth Plaza is about to start following selection of a general contractor. Officials issued no deadline and said they would work with the protesters on finding another location for them.

"This project's commencement is imminent," the statement said. "Accordingly, you should take this opportunity to vacate Dilworth Plaza and remove all of your personal belongings immediately."

The protesters have had hundreds of tents camped in the plaza for more than a month. The group has resisted the city's call to move to another plaza across the street to clear the way for the renovation.

SOUTH CAROLINA Officers started arresting Occupy Columbia protesters Wednesday after Gov. Nikki Haley ordered them to leave the Statehouse grounds. The governor said the people who had been sleeping on the complex for more than a month had cost the state more than $17,000 in property damage and overtime for police.

About 20 people challenge the governor's order and they were arrested in the pouring rain without incident.

The governor said she tired of seeing mattresses, sleeping bags, storage bins and toilet paper on the grounds that house her offices, the state's legislative chambers, office buildings and Court of Appeals.

MASSACHUSETTS A Boston judge has ordered the city not to remove protesters or their tents from a downtown encampment without court approval, except in an emergency such as fire, a medical issue or an outbreak of violence.

A temporary restraining order was issued after a hearing Wednesday on the protesters' lawsuit. Fuller arguments will be heard Dec. 1, and the judge orders the sides to hold a mediation session before then.

A lawyer for the demonstrators says they are concerned they will be forced out in the middle of the night as Occupy protesters were in New York City this week.

CALIFORNIA San Francisco police began arresting students and anti-Wall Street protesters who stormed into a downtown Bank of America, sat down and began chanting on Wednesday.

More than 100 demonstrators stormed the bank, chanting, "Money for schools and education, not for banks and corporations."

Riot-clad officers began putting plastic cuffs on the demonstrators, who refused to leave the bank.

The bank protest occurred after ReFund California, a coalition of student groups and university employee unions, bused in protesters from UC Berkeley, the University of California, Merced and other schools to join San Francisco's Occupy demonstrators.

Occupy San Diego protesters also were rousted from a downtown plaza by police.

The San Diego Union-Tribune said nine people were arrested and a 10th was cited during the confrontation early Wednesday.

Officials say most arrests were for resisting or obstructing police.

Officers used bullhorns to roust sleepers at the Civic Center Plaza. A police statement says tables, sleeping bags and other items were removed so the area could be cleaned up.

It is the latest confrontation in the city where 74 people were cited or jailed since the demonstrations began last month.

INDIANA Occupy Indy protesters have been given 24-hours to clear out their camp on the Statehouse lawn.

In a letter delivered Wednesday, the Department of Administration ordered the handful of remaining protesters to clear out. The state gave protesters until Thursday afternoon to clear out and said protesters who try to stop them will be arrested.

Protesters said the order was not about their safety but about stifling their demonstration.

LONDON, England

Officials attached eviction notices to protest tents outside St. Paul's Cathedral on Wednesday. They are asking demonstrators to remove the camp by Thursday evening or face legal action.

The notices posted by the City of London Corporation said the encampment was "an unlawful obstruction" of a sidewalk, and asked protesters to take down "all tents and other structures."