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Police: 300 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested in NYC

At least 200 people have been arrested during clashes between police and Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in New York City, part of a day of mass gatherings in response to efforts to break up Occupy Wall Street camps nationwide.
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/ Source: staff and news service reports

At least 300 people have been arrested during clashes between police and Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in New York City, part of a day of mass gatherings in response to efforts to break up Occupy Wall Street camps nationwide. 

Thousands of protesters took to the streets around the U.S., including Los Angeles, Dallas, Portland, Ore., to mark two months since the movement's birth. Dozens of arrests were reported, including at least 31 in Los Angeles. 

One of the largest demonstrations was in New York, where at least 1,000 demonstrators tried to clog streets around the stock exchange. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said five of the protesters arrested were charged with felony assault and that seven police officers and 10 protesters were injured.

Five other officers were treated after being hit in the face with stinging liquid.

In New York City, frustrations seemed to spill over in Zuccotti Park, the movement's headquarters since Sept. 17, as hundreds of people shoved back the metal police barricades that have long surrounded the area. A live television shot from above showed waves of police and protesters briefly pushing back and forth before the barricades appeared to be settled at the edge of the park once more.

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

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

As darkness fell, a crowd of several thousand people, their ranks swelled by banner-carrying members of the Service Employees International Union, jammed Manhattan's Foley Square, where their chants boomed off the surrounding courthouses and other government buildings. From there, they began a march over the Brooklyn Bridge.

As they walked, a powerful light projected the slogan "We are the 99 percent" — a reference to the Americans who aren't super-rich — on the side of a nearby skyscraper. Police officers dressed in wind breakers, rather than riot gear, arrested at least two dozen people who walked out onto the bridges' roadway but otherwise let the marchers pass without incident.

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.

"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."

Bloomberg said police had been expecting as many as 10,000 protesters based on what activists had been saying online. But he said there had been "minimal disruption."

"Most protesters have, in all fairness, acted responsibly," he said after visiting an injured police officer in the hospital.

Kelly said officers confiscated metal devices that some demonstrators had apparently planned to use to lock themselves into the entrances to Wall Street businesses.

The demonstrators included actor-director Andre Gregory, who said he hoped the movement would lead to national action on economic injustice.

"It's a possible beginning of something positive," he said.

Some onlookers applauded the demonstrators from open windows. Others yelled, "Get a job!"

The New York group later fanned out across Manhattan and headed to the subways, before gathering downtown and marching over the Brooklyn Bridge. By early evening, a long line of protesters streamed onto the pedestrian walkway of the bridge.

A past attempt to march across the bridge drew the first significant international attention to the Occupy movement when more than 700 people were arrested.

"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."

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 taxi driver Mike Tupea, a Romanian immigrant, said his car was stuck amid the protesters for 40 minutes.

"I have to make a living. I pay $100 for 12 hours for this cab. I am losing money every minute," he said. "I have all my sympathies for this movement but let me do my living, let working people make a living."

The confrontations followed early-morning arrests in other cities. In Dallas, police evicted dozens of protesters near City Hall, citing health and safety reasons. Eighteen protesters were arrested. Two demonstrators were arrested and about 20 tents removed at the University of California, Berkeley.

City officials and demonstrators were trying to decide their next step in Philadelphia, where about 100 protesters were under orders to clear out to make way for a long-planned $50 million plaza renovation at City Hall. Union leaders pressed the demonstrators to leave, saying construction jobs were stake.

Some other developments in the Occupy protests:

Police late Thursday afternoon began making arrests at the Bank of America Plaza where some Occupy Wall Street sympathizers set up tents.

Police announced shortly before 4 p.m. that protesters had 15 minutes to pack up their tents and leave the plaza area or face arrest.

About 27 protesters linked arms and stood in a circle with police in riot gear nearby. Eight were taken into custody without incident by 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST).

Earlier Thursday, several hundred marched through downtown Los Angeles. Police stopped their progress down Broadway when they spilled off the sidewalk and into the street.

Three people were arrested as lines of officers forced the group back onto sidewalks. Police then allowed marchers to leave. The group headed west on 3rd Street, staying on sidewalks.

Earlier, police arrested 23 people without incident after they sat down in a street during a peaceful rally by hundreds of people organized by labor groups who had a permit. Two other people were also arrested separately for interfering with officers.

The day's second march left the Occupy LA encampment at City Hall shortly after noon.

Protesters and police faced off on the Steel Bridge in Portland Thursday morning in what was expected to be a day-long series of Occupy Portland demonstrations, according to NBC station KGW.

Police arrived early to close the bridge ahead of the rally, KGW reported.

In the afternoon, at least 34 were arrested at branches of banks. Police used pepper spray on several protesters - the first use of that agent since protests began on October 6 - after a protracted standoff with protesters at the Chase Bank at 6th and Yamhill near Pioneer Square after protesters filled a revolving door leading into the bank.

A Bank of America branch was briefly chained closed. A man was reported fleeing the scene, and firemen responded with bolt cutters and cut the lock free.

In Eugene, Ore., hundreds of "Occupy Eugene" demonstrators targeted five bank branches Thursday afternoon in protests held for what they referred to as "N17."

The rally started around noon at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza. Protesters then marched across the street, first to Umpqua Bank. A group within the march draped a sign reading "Stumpqua funds clear cuts" over part of the building and then sat in front of the facility’s doors for hours.

Marchers moved to US Bank only to find that had managers closed down the bank from noon to three in anticipation of the protest. Blocks away, managers taped the doors shut at Wells Fargo Bank.

"The hours they are closed is business they are losing, money they are losing. They’re losing the money they have taken away from all the people," said one occupier.

After protesters split up to cover Chase Bank and Bank of America branches, at seven were arrested for blocking the banks' doors, police said.

Washington state
Hundreds of Occupy Seattle and labor demonstrators Thursday afternoon shut down the University Bridge, snarling traffic around Seattle's University District as two different rallies marched toward the bridge.

March organizers hoped for up to 1,000 people to rally later Thursday. Seattle police had said to expect delays, and there were reports of long backups. The state was ready to close the heavily-used, westbound Montlake exit ramp to the State Route 520 bridge if needed.

Police clashed with Occupy Seattle demonstrators Tuesday and arrested six who blocked downtown traffic. Officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, which included an 84-year-old woman.

Mayor Mike McGinn apologized Wednesday and asked police to review their use of the spray.

Police arrested 11 anti-Wall Street protesters for blocking a bridge near the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. Minneapolis Police spokesman Sgt. Bill Palmer says in a Twitter feed that the demonstrators were arrested for "creating a public nuisance" or blocking traffic. Earlier about 40 protesters rallied at the University of Minnesota.

Police in Philadelphia were arresting members of the Occupy Philadelphia movement who had been blocking a major road downtown.

About two dozen protesters refused to move from the Market Street bridge following a march through the city on Thursday evening.

Indiana officials declared detente with Occupy Indy demonstrators after the protesters removed much of their camping equipment from the Statehouse lawn.

Indiana Department of Administration Commissioner Rob Wynkoop said Thursday afternoon he had no plans to remove the protesters' remaining gear. The handful of camping chairs and two foldout tables — which were in front of a set of Statehouse steps and removed from two side exits from the Statehouse — looked manageable, Wynkoop said.

"We'll monitor that and see what happens," he said.

The state ordered about a dozen protesters to clear their equipment from the lawn in a letter spelling out safety concerns.

"I think we're going to end up bringing more things back here," said Crowe "Caleb" Constinteen, 27, of Evansville. They'll bring back "things we need to survive."

London, England
Protesters camped outside St. Paul's Cathedral in London said Thursday they are staying put as a deadline passed for them to take down their tents or face legal action.

London officials attached eviction notices to the tents Wednesday, demanding they be removed from the churchyard by 1 p.m. EST Thursday.

The Occupy London group said no one had left by the deadline, and marked its passing with a rally and a minute of silence outside the cathedral.

"The general feeling is excitement at the moment," said protester Nathan Cravens, 27. "It's brought us together."