Occupy Wall Street activists have vowed to avenge their eviction from a protest camp with an attempt Thursday to disrupt the New York Stock Exchange, then rally on the city’s subway and major bridges.
The website occupywallst.org announced a “Global Day of Action” that will combine demonstrations across the United States with protests in other nations including Belgium, Germany, Poland and Spain.
The level of participation in the rallies could provide a clear indication of Occupy Wall Street’s clout exactly two months since the movement sprang up to protest against the elite “one percent” — and two days after New York police cleared out the tent camp in Manhattan.
“We will no longer tolerate the oppression of the one percent,” the OWS website said.
“This is why we’re fighting back tomorrow…. We will shut down Wall Street and we will #occupy all of New York City with our bodies, voices and ideas.”
Organizers in New York said protesters would start gathering at 7:00 am (1200 GMT) at Zuccotti Park, scene of the dramatic police raid, then march to nearby Wall Street and the stock exchange.
The action was due to begin six hours before the global movement faced a major challenge in London, where a deadline for anti-capitalist protesters camped at St Paul’s Cathedral to leave was scheduled to expire.
“Enough of this economy that exploits and divides us,” the OWS announcement said. “It’s time we put an end to Wall Street’s reign of terror.”
Previous OWS protests have been peaceful, but with tensions rising between the activists and police it was unpredictable what would happen when the crowd tried to enter Wall Street — almost certainly to be blocked from entering.
The wider US movement has also seen trouble this week, with an Occupy camp in Oakland being broken up and a suspected gunman being shot dead by police at the University of California at Berkeley, although it was not linked to the hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters who had descended on the elite college.
OWS promised to “confront Wall Street with the stories of people on the frontlines of economic injustice. There, before the Stock Exchange, we will exchange stories rather than stocks.”
From there, the program calls on protesters to meet at underground rail hubs “and take our own stories to the trains.” A final installment is scheduled as a rally on a major square near police headquarters and various courthouses, then a march across bridges, likely meaning the nearby Brooklyn Bridge.
The announcement strikes a lighthearted note, calling for music and an unexplained “festival of light” on the bridges. However, if the bridge marches block traffic, as police say a previous march on Brooklyn Bridge did, then arrests are almost sure to follow.
The number of people marching, their determination and how well they control the unsanctioned demonstrations will be a key test of strength for the gritty movement. Numbers could swell Thursday, particularly in the later part of the day, with support from sympathetic trade unions.
Another unknown is the level of participation in other US cities that have embraced the OWS cause, as well as in other countries.
Atlanta, Detroit, Portland and Washington, DC, are some of the cities said to be planning events.
According to www.occupywallst.org, Spanish university students in a dozen cities will go on strike and a demonstration will take place in Madrid, where the “indignant” protests were a precursor of the “occupy” movement.
There will be rallies in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland, Nigeria and other countries, according to the site.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, following the cue of several other US cities, ordered this week’s crackdown in response to what he said was a deteriorating health and safety situation in the cramped tent camp.
The raid left OWS visibly weakened Wednesday, with only small numbers coming back to Zuccotti Park, where they are now allowed to congregate, but not live.