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18 Nov, 2011 06:34

400 handcuffs: OWS 2-month birthday gift

Four hundred arrests – that is the tally for the last 24 hours, as police stage an intense crackdown on massive Occupy Wall Street protests erupting in America, with more than 30,000 protesters having shown up in New York City alone.

RT’s correspondent Lucy Kafanov reported of numerous protesters having taken to the streets near Wall Street on Thursday morning in an attempt to disrupt operations in this financial center. As she pointed out, they have succeeded in doing so. Hundreds of activists sat on different corners to get their message noticed. Others were holding hands to form human chains and block intersections.The movement, however, is facing a synchronized clampdown by local governments and law enforcement agencies. RT witnessed extremely intense police response in New York City, including numerous instances of seemingly unprovoked cases of brutality by the police force. In many of these cases protesters were simply sitting or standing near the sidewalk, before they were slammed down to the ground, handcuffed and dragged away.In many cases, RT witnessed police not quite making any distinction between protesters and press representatives, with some of the latter having been arrested as well. On top of all this, an NBC news helicopter was once again asked to clear the airspace. With this ongoing media blackout, protesters say they have to use Twitter in order to follow the latest events.Across the whole country protesters gathered to show solidarity with the Occupy cause. Some two dozen people were arrested in Los Angeles, where more than 1,000 took to the streets and several hundred gathered around symbolic tents at a key intersection, RT's Ramon Galindo reported from the site.Heavy police presence and the arrests, however, did not deter protesters’ actions. Together with several worker units, they have shut down streets of downtown Los Angeles, next to the financial institutions. As a consequence, many of these areas have come to a standstill.It is not only New York and Los Angeles where the protests have taken root. In the capital, at least 200 demonstrators have marched from McPherson Square in downtown Washington to a landmark bridge over Potomac River. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, people continued their peaceful protests in a large tent camp, despite the demands from the authorities to clear the area.

The latest demonstrations spanning the entire country come as the movement marks its two-month mark on November 17. What began as a small occupation of a small park near Wall Street turned into a nationwide movement, and soon after spread across the globe, from Toronto to Tokyo. Cities across the planet have embraced in the will to deliver a strong message of frustration with corporate greed, inequality and spreading poverty, while the very few people in control of this system impose their will.Felipe Messina, a correspondent for the independent Media Roots news organization, believes police are purposely going beyond the call of duty to nip the protests in the bud.“Clearly, what we are seeing here is the attempt to really crash the Occupy Wall Street movement,” he told RT. “Clearly, they’ve tried to hit the protests with the ‘shock and awe’ and tried to devastate them – that backfired. So now they are trying to find different pretexts.”The correspondent points out that protesters have learnt from past mistakes, and the present tactics of peaceful demonstrations are proving to be effective.“I think that in the United States, with the WTO battle in Seattle situations, the protesters have really learnt a lesson about non-violent direct action. And it’s really very effective,”he said. “And Port of Oakland – it’s really sent a message to the political establishment that, you know, people are really seeing the two party dictatorship, and they are really fed up with it, and they are just not going to stand for it anymore.”