Sunday, December 18, 2011

More than 50 "Occupy" protesters arrested in New York

More than 50 anti-Wall Street protesters were arrested on Saturday after they tried to climb over a chain-link fence around a church parking lot in a bid to establish a new encampment.

The demonstrators had used a wooden ladder to scale a chain-link fence into the lot owned by Trinity Church, an Occupy Wall Street spokesman said.

Police had no immediate figure on how many people were taken into custody, but Gideon Oliver, president of the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, put the number at about 55, including between five and 10 members of the clergy.

The remaining demonstrators marched through Manhattan's streets toward the house of the Trinity Church rector, but were turned away by police.

Later, as they started to move toward Midtown, some of the demonstrators were hemmed in by lines of police, and police on motorcycles tried to disperse protesters who were in the middle of streets.
"We are unstoppable. Another world is possible," and "Whose street? Our street," were among the chants from the protesters, who blocked some streets as they marched.

The remainder of the group, several dozen protesters, held signs in Times Square into the evening.
Trinity Church's rector, James H. Cooper, issued a statement on the church's website saying: "We are saddened that OWS protesters chose to ignore yesterday's messages" from several Episcopal and Anglican church leaders, including South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

The messages discouraged trespassing on Trinity Church property and called attention to several ways in which the church was providing support to Occupy Wall Street and working for economic change.
Cooper said the vacant church lot the OWS wanted to move into "has no facilities to sustain a winter encampment. In good conscience and faith, we strongly believe" erecting a camp there "would be wrong, unsafe, unhealthy, and potentially injurious."

The Occupy movement began with protesters taking over a park in New York in September to draw attention to economic inequality and a financial system they say is unfairly skewed toward the wealthy.
In ensuing months the protests and encampments spread to cities throughout the United States as well as to some in other countries.

But Occupy camps in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and a number of other major cities were shut down in recent weeks in operations that resulted in hundreds of arrests and have raised questions about the movement's future.

Authorities have justified their moves against the camps on a variety of grounds, including that the camps were causing sanitation problems and were dangerous to public safety.