At least six Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested near Union Square Monday afternoon as they held a rally demanding governmental intervention to help lower unemployment rates in New York.
"We're clearly facing a jobs emergency in New York," said protest organizer Tony Murphy, who was one of four people to later be arrested for trespassing in a nearby Bank of America. He called for City Council members to "make all layoffs illegal, say no to utility cutoffs and cutbacks of [government] programs."
Approximately 150 protesters marched around the perimeter of Union Square Park before entering several stores.
Police repeatedly warned about 10 protesters to leave the Bank of America lobby before arresting the four who remained. They had taped posters with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. that read, “A job is a right” and sang the protest song “We Shall Overcome” as they were handcuffed and escorted into a police van.
Chanting, “we got sold out, banks got bailed out,” demonstrators successfully entered Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s supermarkets on 14th Street, where they began “mic checks” — where one speakers’ comments are repeated by the group for others to hear — to demand better working conditions for employees. Police eventually removed the protesters without any arrests and blocked them from entering at least two other stores.
A police spokesman said two other protesters were arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest at a Walgreens near Union Square, though an amNewYork reporter observed both arrests outside the store. Police at the scene said the female protester was arrested for blocking pedestrian traffic as the group marched back toward the park, and a male protester who came to her defense was arrested for allegedly shoving an officer and resisting arrest.
The National Lawyers Guild, which has been representing several arrested protesters, said they expected the protesters to be held in the Sixth precinct overnight.