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NPR News

Occupy Protesters Fan Out Across New York


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Guy Raz. And we begin this hour with the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is two months old today and protestors mark the occasion by marching into the heart of New York's financial district. Hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police in the streets around the New York Stock Exchange before taking their message to other parts of the city. Police have arrested scores of people. But as NPR's Joel Rose reports now, that does not seem to be discouraging the Occupiers.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hundreds of protestors gathered this morning in Zuccotti Park, where the Occupy Wall Street movement began, then marched a few blocks to Wall Street.


ROSE: But before protestors got to the Stock Exchange, they were blocked by hundreds of New York police officers with metal barricades and horses. There, some protestors clashed with police in the narrow streets around the Stock Exchange. More than 150 arrests were reported. Ray Louis is a retired Philadelphia police officer, but today in New York, Louis was on the other side of the law with the protestors in the street.

RAY LOUIS: Solidarity with people that are being exploited by corporate America.

ROSE: Louis, who wore his dress blues for the occasion, says the New York police should realize they're part of the 99 percent, too.

LOUIS: That they're victims also. They don't fully realize it yet, but dictator Bloomberg, a representative of corporate America, is ordering them to do what they're doing.

ROSE: Moments later, New York's finest led Louis away in handcuffs. The protestors did not manage to shut down the New York Stock Exchange. It opened as scheduled at 9:30. But protestors did succeed in making life very difficult for people who live and work near Wall Street.

Lawyer Tom Hilgardner was trying to get to an appointment at a law office near the Stock Exchange.

TOM HILGARDNER: I told the police officer, I have a deposition today at 40 Wall Street. How do I get in there? And he said, you can't get in there without ID. So business as usual is not going on at 40 Wall Street today. If there's people who have depositions over there, they're not getting to them.

ROSE: Wall Street traders had to pass through a gauntlet of police barricades to get to work this morning. And trader Jonathan Corpina told local news channel New York 1 he wasn't happy about it.

JONATHAN CORPINA: I think there's a lot of wasted energy that's occurring right now, a lot of time that we're all focusing on this, a lot of time that the protestors try to make their point. I think if we all channeled it together on the same unified front, we'd get a lot more accomplished.


ROSE: City officials, too, seemed to be losing patience with the Occupy protests. Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered police to remove the protestors from Zuccotti Park this week for a cleaning, and a judge ruled they cannot bring their sleeping bags and tarps back into the park. That's raised big questions about the future of Occupy Wall Street. Today, the movement responded by taking its message to subway stations around the city. Small groups of protesters told their stories to fellow strap-hangers during afternoon rush hour.

GEORGE FIGDAR: I arrived the morning after they cleared the park out and I arrived and my friend said, hey, forget it. It's gone. But really, it's just kind of starting up again and it's a great time to be here because I'm really getting a sense for this energy that it's not going to be stoppable.


ROSE: Former teacher Justin Weave(ph) lost his teaching job because of budget cuts and is still out of work. He says the Occupy movement can survive its temporary eviction from Zuccotti Park.

JUSTIN WEAVE: Galvanize the entire country and really the world, and shown how far the police will go and the mayor will go to try to silence the 99 percent. We stay peaceful, we stay calm, we stay resilient and we stay committed to spreading the message of the 99 percent.

ROSE: Weave and company got off the train at Times Square and then faced a moment of indecision.


ROSE: After some discussion, the occupiers decided to hop a downtown train to city hall, where they met up with thousands of other protesters for a peaceful march across the Brooklyn Bridge. The bigger question - what's next for the Occupy movement as a whole – is still anybody's guess. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.