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Police, ‘Occupiers’ Clash on Day of Action in Several Cities

November 17, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
The Occupy Wall Street movement marked the end of its second month with marches and demonstrations in several cities, but hundreds of protesters were arrested after clashing with police. Judy Woodruff reports.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Much of the action around Occupy Wall Street and similar movements was centered on marches and demonstrations today, but police and protesters clashed in several cities.

Life proceeded as normal inside the New York Stock Exchange this morning. But outside, a day of action dawned for the Occupy movement, marking two months since its inception.

PROTESTERS: Occupy Wall Street!

JUDY WOODRUFF: More than 1,000 demonstrators wanted to protest in front of the Exchange and at nearby intersections, but were stopped short by police.

TODD MURTHA, protester: I say these guys make too much money, way too much money. And there’s ladies there cleaning toilets for nothing. It’s wrong, and everybody here knows it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Some of the protests tried to stage sit-ins, blocking access to the Financial District. At least 175 were arrested as the day wore on.

MAN: We don’t have the money. We don’t have the resources. And we have to come out here on the street.

MAN: If you don’t have your I.D.s out, you will be arrested.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The protesters also hoped to block subway hubs throughout the city. Police stood guard this morning as commuters pushed by on their way to work.

And plans also called for a march across Brooklyn Bridge this evening. About 700 people had been arrested in an earlier march on the bridge.

MAN: Stay calm!

MAN: Do not give in!

MAN: Do not give in!

JUDY WOODRUFF: The day of action had been planned for some time, but it took on increased urgency for the movement after Tuesday. That’s when protesters were kicked out of their encampment at Zuccotti Park in a predawn police raid ordered by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Occupiers vowed today they would not be deterred.

P.J. O’ROURKE, protester: Bloomberg has really put gasoline on the flames. And in every inch that he pushes us back, we’re going to go forward a foot. And nothing’s going to stop us, no matter how many times you try to shut us down. We’re going to figure out a way to be heard.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And protesters did crowd back into the park this morning, albeit without their tents and sleeping bags. Some tried to remove the barricades that police had erected around the park.

This afternoon, Mayor Bloomberg warned against violence.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) mayor of New York: Most protesters have, in all fairness, acted responsibly. But those that break the law, those that try to assault other people, particularly our first-responders, are going to be arrested. That’s behavior that has nothing to do with the First Amendment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The confrontations in New York were preceded by early-morning evictions in Dallas. City police cited public health and hygiene issues as they cleared the grounds in front of City Hall. As in other cities, protesters who didn’t leave voluntarily were forcibly removed. By the end, 18 were arrested.

In Los Angeles, Occupy L.A. joined forces with some 500 labor union members and other community groups to march. At least 23 were arrested without incident after sitting in a downtown street.

In the nation’s capital, protesters gathered to march across the key bridge spanning the Potomac River.

JOHN BUTLER, protester: Right now, this is totally unacceptable. That’s why we’re here, to declare this is an economic emergency for the 99 percent.  

JUDY WOODRUFF: They were being joined by other demonstrators to form a human chain along the Virginia side of the bridge.

Meanwhile, at the University of California, Berkeley, student protesters had just rebuilt their encampment on Tuesday, when police tore down the tents today and arrested two people.

And in nearby San Francisco, almost 100 people were arrested on Wednesday, when they tried to Occupy a Bank of America office, demanding money for schools and education.