Americans for Prosperity to gather in Manhattan on Thursday to 'stand up to these extremists who despise free enterprise'

An activist group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers is planning a rally in New York on Thursday to "stand up to Occupy Wall Street extremists".

Americans for Prosperity will gather at the Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan to demonstrate against Occupy protesters and Barack Obama's handling of the economy.

"The Occupy Wall Street crowd is nothing but a fringe element of malcontents bent on mayhem and destruction," said Steve Lonegan, Americans for Prosperity's New Jersey state director.

"These are people who despise free enterprise. They are not attacking Wall Street. They are attacking the very freedoms that everyday Americans cherish to pursue their own dreams and succeed."

Lonegan added that it was "time that someone stood up to the Occupy Wall Street mob".

The rally, announced on Wednesday, is part of Americans for Prosperity's "Failing Agenda" bus tour across the US. The non-profit organisation has three buses crossing the US, drawing attention to what it sees as Obama's failings on the economy.

The specific focus on Occupy Wall Street comes after the movement celebrated its first anniversary on Monday, although the occasion was marred by close to 200 arrests across New York.

David and Charles Koch have poured money into Americans for Prosperity, which is tied to the Tea Party movement and has a focus on small government and low taxes.

Although Americans for Prosperity says it "does not expressly advocate for the success or defeat of any candidate for public office", the organisation has run adverts targeting Obama. Mitt Romney attended a fundraiser held by the Kochs this summer.

A spokesman for Americans for Prosperity would not predict how many people might attend the rally at the Rockefeller, but the group's website claims to be "more than two million activists strong" across the country. The group has chapters in 34 states, according to its press release. Attendees will listen to speeches from Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, Lonegan and others.

"What the American people are really worried about is President Obama's failing agenda," Lonegan said.

"They are worried about a failing agenda that is saddling future generations of Americans with trillions of dollars of debt and leaving them with a bleak future. They are worried about the economic destruction President Obama's policies have had on the economy and on job creation."

Bill Dobbs, an Occupy Wall Street activist who attended the movement's anniversary event on Monday, described the rally as "an interesting development".

"But the rich want almost everything, they'd like to take just about everything in sight," he said. "The 1% must be getting desperate to put their supporters out on the street."

© Guardian News and Media 2012