May Day OWS protests clog NYC streets

Hundreds of demonstrators gather in Manhattan locations as part of Occupy Wall Street protests Tuesday. Videojournalist: Chris Ware (May 1, 2012)

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Occupy Wall Street protesters marched in separate clusters through the streets of Manhattan into the night Tuesday, sometimes clashing with police, as part of what organizers billed as a "general strike" on May Day, a day of pro-labor marches in many countries.

Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday night, several hundred protesters had gathered at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza on Water Street in lower Manhattan. Nearly 100 police officers ringed the plaza and several large police buses were parked nearby. Officers on megaphones told chanting protesters the plaza was closed at 10 p.m. and they faced arrest if they stayed.

About 30 minutes later, scuffles broke out between officers and protesters at the corner of Pearl Street and Hanover Square. Several more demonstrators were arrested.

At 9 p.m., the Lawyers Guild of New York said 47 people were in custody. The NYPD would not confirm the guild's total.

About 30 arrests had taken place as of 6 p.m., NYPD officials said.

Earlier in the evening, a massive group of protesters had shut down Broadway at Union Square and stretched south past Canal Street to City Hall.

Five Yellow Cabs led the procession downtown, the drivers shouting "taxicab rights" as they moved. Others blew ear-piercing whistles as they walked, but remained peaceful.

Several blocks north, on Broadway early Tuesday evening, police officers pulled a male protester from the crowd.

"I just want to know why you're detaining me?" the protester asked as he sat north of Prince Street with his wrists restrained by plastic handcuffs. He received no response from about a dozen officers who surrounded him.

A few moments later, officers, some in riot gear, removed the handcuffs and let the protester go.

On Broadway between Leonard and Worth streets, three people who called themselves counterprotesters held banners and yelled their support for immigration reform as Occupy Wall Street demonstrators walked by. Words were exchanged between the three and demonstrators, who threw water bottles at them and tore up their signs.

At about 8 p.m. Tuesday, the front line of the demonstrators had stopped at the lower tip of Manhattan. Several hundred protesters gathered in front of a stage set up near a Duane Reade store to hear several speakers. About 30 minutes later, the stage was taken down and some demonstrators said they were headed to a protest gathering at Battery Park while others headed home.

The day began in the pouring rain with a series of 8 a.m. events, progressed to a series of marches to targeted institutions -- such as banks and companies engaged in labor disputes -- as skies turned sunny, and concluded with the march from Union Square to Wall Street.

The MTA warned evening commuters of possible delays because of changes in bus routes caused by the protest, and the possibility of overcrowded trains.

One of the earliest incidents occurred in the morning, when a man was seen being handcuffed and put into an NYPD van during a demonstration at the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park.

Later in the morning, at least three men and one woman among Occupy protesters were handcuffed by NYPD officers as they walked across the Williamsburg Bridge bound for Manhattan. Several protesters were seized by officers at Second Avenue and the Bowery in lower Manhattan, and several more were handcuffed and put in police vans at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

Many of those arrested wore dark hoodies, and several of them wore black handkerchiefs over the lower part of their faces.

Some of the marches became chaotic, with protesters knocking over litter baskets and screaming at police, but others were limited to some mild pushing as officers tried to keep the protesters from spilling into the streets from the sidewalks.

The protest agenda included planned acts of "civil disobedience" and "other creative disruptions against the corporations who rule our city," according to Occupy Wall Street websites.

Christopher Moylan, 55, of Centerport, an English professor at the New York Institute of Technology who said he was a member of Occupy Huntington, said about 20 of its members were at a Bryant Park rally at midday.

"What I want to see happen is real tax reform -- both on the corporate level and on an individual level," Moylan said. "The influence of money on politics is obscene. It's going to leave a lot of us out of the picture."

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