New York police on Monday arrested dozens of Occupy Wall Street activists who gathered in the city's financial district, where they sought to disrupt traffic and surround the New York Stock Exchange as part of a day of protests to mark the movement's first anniversary.
The protests attracted about a thousand activists, far fewer than last fall's numbers, highlighting the challenge the movement has faced in trying to sustain momentum after sparking a national conversation about economic inequality last fall.
The New York Police Department, which set up a broad perimeter to block access to the NYSE by anyone other than exchange workers, said it has made "multiple arrests" by midmorning. Police were also posted at major banks and government buildings, and guarded Wall Street' landmark Charging Bull, a 7,100 pound bronze sculpture.
Gideon Orion Oliver, a lawyer who represents a number of protesters and the president of the New York Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, estimated in a Twitter posting that about 90 protesters had been arrested. Among those was retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard, who also was arrested last December.
Occupy Wall Street protesters, who popularized the phrase "We are the 99 percent," gathered early Monday near Zuccotti Park, where a spontaneous encampment became their unofficial headquarters last year, but were again barred access by police.
Several protesters held signs, one saying "END the FED," another reading: "We Are Students, Not Customers."
"What happened here a year ago was a process that cannot be stopped," Pulitzer-prize winning author Chris Hedges said. "What happened here a year ago will ultimately spell the doom of the corporate state."
The grassroots movement caught the world by surprise last fall with a spontaneous encampment in lower Manhattan that soon spread to cities across North America and Europe.
Occupy Wall Street briefly buoyed a spirit of U.S. social activism, and drew attention to economic injustice.
The group sponsored a series of activities over the weekend, attended by crowds that never exceeded the hundreds. New York police arrested about three dozen people at those events.
Copyright@Thomson Reuters 2012