An all-out showdown between Occupy Wall Street protesters and New York City police was averted Friday morning, at least temporarily, when the private firm that owns the plaza where the protesters have been camping called off plans to clean it.
But 15 protesters were arrested about three blocks away after clashes with police.
On Saturday, some demonstrators plan to leave the site for a "mass convergence" in Times Square.
The cleaning would have meant removal of the protesters, who said it was just a pretext to evict them. Zuccotti Park has been their base of operations for the past month as they protested against Wall Street and corporate America.
The cleanup had been scheduled for 7 a.m., but Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said at 6:30 a.m. it had been called off, sparking chants from protesters: "The people united will never be defeated," and "Get up, get down, there's revolution in this town."
Some then marched to City Hall, but turned back because they feared they would be blocked from re-entering the plaza. Another group marched on Wall Street, and those protesters engaged in a rolling battle with police that resulted in the arrests, police spokesman Paul Browne said.
One of those arrested was an attorney-observer from the National Lawyers Guild, whose leg was pinned to the ground under the rear wheel of a scooter ridden by a police officer, guild spokesman Gideon Oliver said.
A top Wall Street executive expressed his support Friday for the group's right to protest.
"People are frustrated . . . they feel they have lost their voice," Larry Leibowitz, chief operating officer of the New York Stock Exchange EuroNext, told business reporters at a journalism conference in midtown Manhattan.
With William Murphy, James T. Madore and John Valenti