Hundreds arrested, but Occupy Wall Street continues
And while hundreds of participants were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, others are joining in solidarity from across the country.
Around 700 people participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement were arrested on Saturday after marching from the Financial District in lower Manhattan onto the historic bridge that spans the East River in New York. As word began to circulate that cops were surrounding the protesters in masse and making arrests, hundreds of more demonstrators made the march to rally for their release and continue their chants to do away with corporate greed and financial mismanagement ravaging America.
Despite the massive arrests, similar events are also gaining momentum. Chicago, Los Angeles and Chicago saw protests last week, and by Saturday others were gathering in central parts of other large American cities, including Boston, Boulder and Portland, Oregon.
“This is our Tahrir Square,” Emilio Baez told Press TV over the weekend while camped out outside Willis Tower in downtown Chicago. “We'll stay here for months if we have to,” he told the Tribune.
Kira Moyer-Sims, 19, of Portland, Oregon traveled to New York City over the weekend to participate. She tells The Associate Press that the NYPD "thought we were going to leave and we haven't,” and adds that they’re “going to stay as long as we can."
In the nearly 20 days since the protests started, participants have not even come close to show signs of giving up.
To RT America last week, Chelsea Elliott of Brooklyn said, “I just hope that as this group, as we build momentum, so will an understanding and awareness of the situation of our government.” Elliott was pepper-sprayed by an on-duty NYPD officer last weekend for participating in the protests in New York. She says the attack was unprovoked.
“It took about three seconds for it to register what had happened,” Elliott told RT. “At that moment, my mind kind of went blank. I was just so confused as to why. I just fell to the ground.”
This weekend, others insist that the NYPD continued to make arrests for those that were protesting peacefully and without provocation. The New York Police Department, however, says that those that were arrested on the bridge this weekend were apprehended for breaking the law.
As the movement gains momentum, however, the protesters are quickly outnumbering the police. What began as a handful of demonstrators in Lower Manhattan has grown to upwards of a thousand at any given time in New York. Support has been offered from all parts of the world, and later this month the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada is expecting to host their own demonstration.
Reporter Allison Kilkenny from The Nation says that as momentum gains, more and more of the mainstream is finally catching on. Now with support from some major unions, the media is starting to look towards the protesters as a serious force to be reckoned with.
"It's an exciting time for the movement because the central criticism of Occupy Wall Street has been that they are scattered ideologically – they are not very organized," said Kilkenny. Now with the backing of unions, the demonstrators are able to address these criticisms, she said.
And as the protests continue into a third week, Kilkenny said that it "in itself is a remarkable feat."
Will it get any stronger though? "We definitely aren't seeing an Arab Spring movement right now, but that doesn't mean that it's not going to get there," she said.