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Mayor Bloomberg defends Occupy Wall Street protesters

Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement begin

Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement begin a highway hike to Washington, D.C. (Getty) Credit: Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement begin a highway hike to Washington, D.C. (Getty)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg can’t make up his mind about whether or not he likes the Occupy Wall Street protests.

After slamming the demonstrators at Zuccotti Park for harming downtown residents and small business owners, he defended them Wednesday, saying they “generally do not break the law.”

“When they protest, they march in a line, they stay on the sidewalk, they follow the direction of the police, they exercise their First Amendment rights,” Hizzoner said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” seemingly forgetting the nearly 1,000 arrested during marches over the past two months.

“They want to be able to have something change so that their lives are going to be better,” Bloomberg said. “This is part of a much bigger thing that we should really be focused on.”

Just last week, the mayor criticized the protesters for taking over an entire community and called their policy of self-policing some crime “despicable.”

Jamie Chandler, a political science professor at Hunter College, said the situation is “sensitive” for Bloomberg, especially because he is a billionaire politician with ties to Wall Street.

“I definitely think that he is attempting to play both sides,” Chandler said. “Although he has connections to Wall Street, he also has a larger populist image that he’s built within New York City.”

“I don’t think he’s going to endorse [the protesters], but I think he’s going to speak more consistently about them, and compliment his call for ending the Bush-era tax cuts,” Chandler continued, adding that Bloomberg is likely eyeing a future job on President Barack Obama’s cabinet as treasury or commerce secretary.

Meanwhile Wednesday, approximately 24 protesters began a two-week march to Washington D.C. They are expected to make it to New Brunswick by the end of the day, and to Philadelphia by Sunday.

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