About 700 protesters have been arrested on Saturday night after they shut down a lane of traffic for several hours on Brooklyn Bridge (photo, from nytimes.com). They were protesting against corporate greed in a walk organised by the “Occupy Wall Street” group. Most of them have now been freed, said New York City police.
They were given citations for disorderly conduct and a criminal court summons.
Less than 20 protesters haven’t been identified yet so they are still held. They were expected to appear at the Manhattan criminal court on Sunday, a spokesman for the New York Police Department told the BBC.
During their improvised walk over the East River to Brooklyn, some protesters carried slogans that read “End the Fed” and “Pepper spray Goldman Sachs”.
Police said the demonstrators were given “multiple warnings” to keep to the pedestrian walkway but spread to the road, which stopped traffic for several hours.
“Over 700 summonses and desk appearance tickets have been issued in connection with a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge late this afternoon after multiple warnings by police were given to protesters to stay on the pedestrian walkway, and that if they took the roadway they would be arrested,” said a police spokesman.
“Some complied and took the walkway without being arrested. Others proceeded on the Brooklyn-bound vehicular roadway and were.”
But some protesters said the police did not warn them or tricked them on to the roadway. The police denies these accusations.
Two marches went over the bridge without problems earlier that day : one was organised by a group opposed to genetically modified food and went from Brooklyn to Manhattan, the other went in the opposite direction was a march against poverty.
‘Revolutionary Arab Spring tactic’
Since 17 September, members of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement have been camping in a privately owned area of land not far from Manhattan’s financial district. They promised to stay there through winter in order to protest against issues like the 2008 bank bailouts, foreclosures and high unemployment in the US.
“We are the majority. We are the 99%. And we will no longer be silent,” the group said in a statement.
“We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of non-violence to maximise the safety of all participants.”
The group has clashed with New York’s police on earlier occasions.
On Friday more than 1,000 “Occupy Wall Street” campaigners marched to New York’s police headquarters in order to protest against arrests and police behaviour earlier in their demonstration.
On 25 September some 80 people were arrested during a march toward a main shopping district. Most of them were charged with disorderly conduct and blocking traffic, but one person was charged with assaulting a police officer.
However during the march a city police commander used pepper spray on four women and a video of the incident went viral on the internet.
Five New York labour unions support the movement as well as celebrities and academics : Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, rapper Lupe Fiasco and the British band Radiohead.
On Wednesday afternoon there will be another march on Wall Street.
And in recent days the New York’s protesters inspired small-scale protests in other cities, including Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.