Wall St. Protests Expand, Could Mean More Arrests

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The protests against Wall Street are extending to other cities and to other locations in New York City. That local expansion could be a cause for a degree of concern, since troubles arise every time the demonstrations move from their origin in the Financial District to other locations.

On Wednesday, police used nightsticks and pepper spray to subdue protesters and observers after a protest march from the main location of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in Zuccotti Park, in the Financial District, to Foley Square a half mile north. Last weekend, police arrested hundreds of demonstrators who marched onto the Brooklyn Bridge and intentionally shut it off to traffic.

Now, the Occupy Wall Street movement is planning a demonstration in Greenwich Village on Saturday. The event is being planned by loosely organized working groups and committees made up of people based in Zuccotti Park. They are arranging events through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, but some of the actions called for by members of the movement aren't materializing.

For example, a post on the Occupy Wall Street Facebook page on Friday announced another Brooklyn Bridge march, except this one was from Brooklyn to the bridge, rather than from Manhattan like the one last week. There's no evidence that the Friday march ever occurred.

The Greenwich Village demonstration appears legitimate, however, and is supposed to take place in Washington Square beginning at 3 P.M. If demonstrators remain in the square, which is in the center of the NYU campus, for a great length of time, that could lead to more arrests.

Washington Square Park is owned by the city, and is officially closed from midnight to 6 A.M. When asked if any demonstrators who are in the park after midnight Saturday will get arrested, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told PIX11 News, "I'm not going to predict that. We hope that people will abide by the law."

His vague answer was clarified by Mayor Michael Bloomberg during his weekly radio broadcast on WOR-AM. "If anybody in this city breaks the law," the mayor said, "We will arrest them."

Police coverage of the protests is costing citizens money. $1.9 million to be precise, according to Commissioner Kelly, in overtime fees for officers, since the protests began September 17th.

"We prefer not to spend overtime," the commissioner told PIX11 News in a newsconference at Police Headquarters Friday. "But we have to," he said.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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