Several hundred protesters in at least seven U.S. cities supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement were arrested over the weekend after refusing to obey police orders to leave public areas, including 175 in Chicago.
The arrests were mostly peaceful and came as somewhat of a contrast to earlier demonstrations, where protesters took care to follow laws in order to continue criticizing Wall Street’s role in the financial crisis and other economic injustices.
The arrests came after a day of protests in cities around the world, where tens of thousands gathered to rally against what they see as corporate greed.
At least one protest overseas grew violent. In Rome, rioters hijacked what had been a peaceful gathering and smashed windows, tore up sidewalks and torched vehicles. Repair costs were estimated at $1.4 million, the mayor said Sunday.
U.S. cities large and small were “occupied” over the weekend: Washington, D.C.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Burlington, Vt.; Rapid City, S.D.; and Cheyenne, Wyo., were just a few. In Cincinnati, protesters moved their demonstration out of a park after hearing that a couple were getting their wedding photos taken there — but the bride and groom sought them out for pictures.
In addition to Sunday’s arrests in Chicago, more than 70 New York protesters were arrested Saturday, including at least 40 in Times Square. There were about 100 arrests in Arizona — 53 in Tucson and 46 in Phoenix — after protesters refused police orders to disperse from parks. About two dozen people were arrested in Denver.
Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in the Iraq war, was among about 20 people arrested in Sacramento early Sunday after failing to follow police orders to disperse.
In Washington, author, commentator, civil rights activist and Princeton University professor Cornel West was arrested while protesting on the steps of the Supreme Court about corporate influence in politics, a legal advisor to the protesters said. A Supreme Court spokeswoman said 19 people were arrested Sunday afternoon after they refused to leave the grounds of the court.
In Chicago, about 500 people had set up camp at the entrance to Grant Park on Saturday evening after a protest earlier in the day involving about 2,000 people. Police said they gave protesters repeated warnings after the park closed at 11 p.m. and began making arrests when they refused to leave.
The tactic to occupy a city park has been used in other places, with local officials often working to accommodate them. For example, protesters in Iowa reached a deal with Des Moines’ mayor to move from the Capitol to a city park, avoiding arrest.
But Chicago protesters said they had come up short, although they had yet to apply for permits. A message left Sunday for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office wasn’t immediately returned.
Arielle Amiri, an 18-year-old freshman at DePaul University, told the Chicago Tribune that she and her friends often had discussed how they would change the world if given the chance. The one thing they settled on, she said, was changing the distribution of wealth.
“Now that there’s a movement to represent the 99% that hasn’t had a voice in quite some time, it seems silly for me not to be here,” she said.