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Dozens arrested as Occupy Wall Street protests fall flat

Demonstrators marked the one-year anniversary of the protests which spread worldwide last year but the movement appears to have lost steam.

Occupy Wall Street protestor Chris Philips screams as he is arrested near Zuccotti Park today.
Occupy Wall Street protestor Chris Philips screams as he is arrested near Zuccotti Park today.
Image: John Minchillo/AP/Press Association Images

PROTESTERS FROM OCCUPY Wall Street returned to the streets of New York today to mark their one-year anniversary, but in such small numbers that the movement appeared to be losing steam.

Dozens were arrested, including a bishop, but the action paled in comparison to the crowd of 30,000 that packed Manhattan’s streets on November 17, 2011, to rally against economic inequality and wealth disparities.

In New York’s financial district, roughly 600 demonstrators carrying signs that read “Get money out of politics” and “We are the 99 per cent” took to the streets around Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the movement one year ago.

Witnesses counted some 100 arrests, and AFP reporters on the ground saw several protesters being detained, but the New York Police Department declined to put a figure on the number in custody.

“We are sending the message that Wall Street bankers cannot go to work every morning without thinking what their institutions are doing to the country,” protest spokesman Mark Brey told AFP.

The National Lawyers Guild, who had observers around the New York Stock Exchange, said at least 100 people had been arrested by mid-afternoon.

Several people were taken into custody at one entrance to Wall Street, and demonstrators were detained near Zuccotti Park as police on horseback blocked side streets.

At one point, marchers appeared on Broadway in an attempt to disrupt the morning commute. Around the stock exchange protesters had split into four groups to complicate the task of the police.

By the afternoon, protesters gathered at Zuccotti Park. Those taken into custody included retired Episcopalian bishop George Packard, cleary identifiable as a clergyman in his long purple robe.

“I am here today because of the greed of Wall Street,” he told AFP. “All roads lead to Wall Street, they control our lives.”

The movement has seen a steep drop in support since it was founded a year ago, when hundreds camped in the park to rally against bank bailouts and what they called the ruling “one percent.”

Last year, Occupy’s camp in Zuccotti Park spawned similar protests in cities around the world as the movement tapped into widespread resentment over the economic slump, persistent unemployment and anger at financial practices.

But this time around, support in other US cities waned with no signs of major protests elsewhere — in a sign the movement has failed to make good on promises to return as a significant force.

- (c) AFP 2012

Read: Occupy Galway: the last day of the Eyre Square camp

Read: Occupy Dame Street camp removed from Central Bank base

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