Protesters flooded the streets of lower Manhattan this morning in an effort to “shut down Wall Street” as part of what the Occupy Wall Street organizers are calling a “mass day of action” to mark two months since the now global movement began in New York City’s Zuccotti Park.
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What will likely turn out to be a full day of protesting and arrests began with an early morning demonstration against Wall Street, the goal of which was to prevent the New York Stock Exchange from opening.
Demonstrators were met by a heavy police presence that soon began cordoning off streets and making arrests. OccupyWallSt.org has published numerous unconfirmed reports of police brutality. CNN personnel witnessed the arrests of roughly a dozen demonstrators, including a retired Philadelphia police captain, Ray Lewis, who had joined protesters in the middle of a street near Wall Street.
Police set up checkpoints around the New York Stock Exchange, allowing only NYSE workers with identification to reach the building on Broad Street. Protesters failed to delay the morning bell, and trading began on time.
“It’s business as usual,” said Rich Adamonis, a spokesman for the exchange.
“The police had a walkway cleared, I showed my ID and walked in,”said Doreen Mogavero, a stock exchange member who was on the floor when trading started at 9:30 a.m., as scheduled. “I didn’t even see many demonstrators,” said Mogavero, who arrived at work around 8:45 a.m.
Speaking to CNN’s “American Morning,” New York City deputy mayor Howard Wolfson said, “We’ll make sure, if people want to peacefully protest, they have the right to.” However, “if people break the law, we’ll have to deal with that.”
“If they attempt to enter a building they’re not allowed in, that’s breaking the law. If they want to express their concerns about Wall Street, that’s totally fine,” said Wolfson. However, live streaming video on the OWS site showed demonstrators and uninvolved pedestrians alike being denied access to streets and subway stations in the area.
According to the OWS website, other events planned for Thursday in New York include “occupy the subways”– a plan to gather at 16 hubs in the five buroughs — and “take the square,” meaning Foley Square, across from City Hall. Protesters also plan a march across the Brooklyn Bridge.
In occupying the subways, the group’s intention is not to disrupt service, bur rather to take their ideas “to every block, every street, every subway,” according to Occupy spokesman Bill Dobbs.
However, according to Deputy Mayor Wolfson, “The protesters are calling for a massive event aimed at disrupting major parts of the city.”
Police had arrested about 75 protesters by late morning, most of them practicing classic civil disobedience — passive resistance — with one woman in a wheelchair being arrested after parking herself in the middle of the street in an attempt to stop traffic. According to police, 40 of the 75 arrests occurred at Nassau and Pine Streets.
After being forcefully evicted from Zuccotti Park after nearly two months of occupation on Tuesday, protesters today successful regained control of the park.