Occupy Wall Street marchers scuffle with police, workers
Police and Occupy Wall Street protesters scuffled in lower Manhattan early Thursday as marchers tried to take their demonstration to the door of the New York Stock Exchange, leading to angry confrontations with officers who, by early in the day, had already arrested some people.
Police set up roadblocks in an attempt to limit access to Wall Street to those who could show IDs proving they worked there, but the effort created a massive bottleneck as protesters mixed with people trying to get to work who were told: "Wall Street is closed for today."
Locking arms with others to stop one man from getting through the crowds, Nisse Greenberg, 25, said he didn't care that he was stopping people from getting to their jobs. "This society is stopping a lot of people from going to work. It's OK that we're stopping people one day," said Greenberg, who works as a barista and a math tutor.
The march began at Zuccotti Park, the plaza a few blocks from the stock exchange that until Tuesday morning was Occupy Wall Street's camp. The police raid that evicted protesters has heightened tensions between protesters and city officials, and the Thursday morning demonstration was just the start of what Occupy Wall Street vowed would be a "day of action" to mark the two-month anniversary of its protests.
Later, the group said, it would occupy subway stations, hold a march in Foley Square outside the Manhattan courthouses, and then try to march on bridges linking Manhattan to outer boroughs. Past protests have led to scores of arrests, but marchers did not appear worried about that.
"I paid taxes and took care of my responsibility, and I'm struggling," said one marcher, Leah Lackner, 27, who had taken the day off work as a mental health counselor to join the protest. Her sign read: "I played by the rules."
Lackner said she has $90,000 in student loans, a common issue among protesters who say that the 1% of the richest Americans should do more to help those weighed down by student debt, mortgages and other financial burdens.
Although marchers may have disrupted some commuters' mornings, they failed to stop action on the floor of the stock exchange, which they blame for so many of the country's ills. At 9:30 a.m., the opening bell began clanging on schedule, marking the opening of another day of trading.
-- Geraldine Baum in New York
Photo: Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters march through New York's financial district on Thursday trying to shut off access to the New York Stock Exchange and major banks. They were met by helmeted police at every corner on Wall Street. Credit: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times