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Police arrest dozens in anti-Wall Street protests

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, October 14, 2011 23:35 EDT
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US police arrested some 50 anti-Wall Street protesters across the country, but New York backed off plans to evict an unauthorized camp in the Financial District.

Most arrests were on Friday in the western United States, where the protests spread from New York.

In Denver, 23 people were detained, Sergeant Mike Baker from the Colorado State Patrol told AFP, after 135 officers moved in early Friday to evict protesters camped out in front of the state Capitol building.

Fox News reported brief scuffles, but no injuries.

Ten others were arrested in Seattle, Washington, and another man in San Diego, California, police there said.

In New York, a tense confrontation between the country’s biggest protest camp and police ended when plans were called off to forcibly clean the square.

Hundreds of protesters have been camped out on the square for four weeks and the police order to evacuate during the cleaning was seen as a ruse to ensure their eviction.

At the final hour, the owners of the Zuccotti Park plaza said they were delaying the cleaning and that protesters could stay for now.

An impromptu celebration march to nearby Wall Street ended with scuffles and 14 arrests when protesters ignored police instructions to remain on the sidewalks so as not to impede traffic, the New York Police Department said.

Several demonstrators were pinned down on the pavement by police, including one who had apparently been hit by a policeman on a motorcycle.

This marred what was seen as a surprise victory for the largely peaceful demonstrators, many of whom stayed up all night cleaning the plaza themselves in order to demonstrate that there was no need for the owners to intervene.

Brookfield Properties, which owns the site, “believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use,” Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said.

Protesters were jubilant, chanting, “People united will never be defeated!”

“It is a big victory for us,” said Senia Barragan, a spokeswoman for the demonstrators, explaining that the movement had been helped by the large numbers who came out to support them.

The group again vowed to stay put.

“I was ready to be arrested,” said Zach Loeb, a 27-year-old part-time librarian, who has helped set up a library in the park.

“I feel thrilled, energized, but my guard is not down,” he added.

On its website, occupywallst.org, the group said it was organizing a family sleep in the park from 8:00 pm (2300 GMT) Friday night, which it said “would be a direct challenge to the misconception that this is a movement that only represents the young, the radical and the broke.”

A small band of protesters began camping out in Zuccotti Park on September 17, preaching an anti-capitalist message that has resonated in an America gripped by high unemployment and a struggle to emerge from a painful recession.

Sister protest groups have sprung up in other major US cities, and former vice president turned climate change activist Al Gore on Thursday became the latest high-profile name to throw his support behind the movement.

Up to 600 protesters have been camping out overnight in the New York park, and there are now signs of permanence, such as food stalls, an infirmary and an information desk.

But protesters have no toilet facilities of their own and depend on local restaurants. As their numbers have grown, so have reports of locals complaining about people urinating in the streets.

Last month, more than 700 protesters were arrested for blocking weekend traffic on Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

In Boston, some 700 police launched the biggest crackdown so far on the movement early Tuesday, descending on parks to arrest more than 100 protesters for unlawful assembly.

A poll by Time magazine showed 54 percent of Americans had a somewhat favorable or very favorable view of the protesters, while 23 percent disapproved and the remaining 24 percent of those surveyed were undecided.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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