160 protesters arrested on OWS anniversary
A day of loud demonstrations and arrests in lower Manhattan on the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street campaign ended Monday night with a large crowd wedged into Zuccotti Park -- the symbolic heart of the movement -- holding meetings and planning more events Tuesday.
At least 160 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were in custody by Monday night, NYPD officials said. Most were arrested during protests in the Financial District and faced disorderly conduct charges, an NYPD spokeswoman said.
By about 8 p.m., demonstrators began leaving the park. Some were headed for a planned all-night vigil at a criminal courthouse and jail on Centre Street for those arrested earlier.
Activists waged several simultaneous disruptions throughout the day, including sit-ins and vocal marches that blocked intersections.
The grassroots movement caught the world by surprise last fall with a spontaneous encampment in lower Manhattan that soon spread to cities across North America and Europe.
The protesters were outraged over what they called "corporate excess" and said they were fighting for the "99 percent," or the vast majority of Americans who do not fall into the wealthiest 1 percent of the population. After two months encamped at Zuccotti Park, near the epicenter of Manhattan's financial engine, protesters were forcibly removed by the NYPD in November.
Monday night, hundreds returned to the park and while NYPD officers kept a watchful eye, they made no move to force the Occupy protesters out.
"It's a very special party . . . really means a lot to everyone . . . in the United States and around the world," said Al Burgo, of Coney Island, inside the park. "People come here and want action. And they see action. Brothers and sisters."
And while the mood Monday night had the feel of a late-summer street party, events were far from festive earlier.
The arrests began about 7:45 a.m. when police handcuffed protesters shortly after a group headed south from Zuccotti Park toward Wall Street chanting, "Whose streets? Our streets."
Several were arrested after they confronted riot-gear clad officers at a blockade at Broadway and Wall Street.
Protesters and police also faced off at Pine and Nassau streets. At least five protesters were pushed to the ground and handcuffed at Pine and Williams streets by police as the crowd chanted "shame, shame" and cursed at the officers.
Motorists honked and harried-looking office workers pushed through the crowd.
"I'm being disrupted right now because I can't get to work," said Lisa Lugo, 34, of Ozone Park, a finance industry worker. "I'm over this already. When are they going to stop?"
With Maria Alvarez,
Igor Kossov, Joseph Mallia
and William Murphy