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More than 700 protesters arrested in Brooklyn Bridge showdown

Marchers from the Occupy Wall Street movement clashed with New York cops yesterday as protests spread across the US.

Protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday
Protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday
Image: AP Photo/Will Stevens

MORE THAN 700 protesters demonstrating against corporate greed, global warming and social inequality were arrested in New York yesterday after they swarmed the Brooklyn Bridge.

The group Occupy Wall Street has been camped out in a plaza in Manhattan’s Financial District for nearly two weeks staging various marches, and had orchestrated an impromptu trek to Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon. They walked in thick rows on the sidewalk up to the bridge, where some demonstrators spilled onto the roadway after being told to stay on the pedestrian pathway, and shut down a lane of traffic for several hours in a tense confrontation with police.

The majority of those arrested were given citations for disorderly conduct and were released, police said.

Some protesters sat on the roadway, chanting “Let us go,” while others chanted and yelled at police from the pedestrian walkaway above. Police used orange netting to stop the group from going farther down the bridge, which is under construction.

Erin Larkins, a Columbia University graduate student at who says she and her boyfriend have significant student loan debt, was among the thousands of protesters on the bridge. She said a friend persuaded her to join the march and she’s glad she did.

‘No one is expecting immediate change’

“I don’t think we’re asking for much, just to wake up every morning not worrying whether we can pay the rent, or whether our next meal will be rice and beans again,” Larkins wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “No one is expecting immediate change. I think everyone is just hopeful that people will wake up a bit and realize that the more we speak up, the more the people that do have the authority to make changes in this world listen.”

Several videos taken of the event show a confusing, chaotic scene. Some show protesters screaming obscenities at police and taking a hat from one of the officers. Others show police struggling with people who refuse to get up. Nearby, a couple posed for wedding pictures on the bridge.

Protesters also assembled yesterday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Boston and Los Angeles to express their solidarity with the movement in New York, though their demands remain unclear. Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have been camped in Zuccotti Park and have clashed with police on earlier occasions. Mostly, the protests have been peaceful, and the movement has shown no signs of losing steam. Celebrities including Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon made recent stops to encourage the group.

During the length of the protest, turnout has varied, but the numbers have reached as high as about a few thousand. A core group of about two hundred people remain camped throughout the week. They sleep on air mattresses, use Mac laptops and play drums. They go to the bathroom at the local McDonald’s. A few times a day, they march down to Wall Street, yelling, “This is what democracy looks like!”

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Associated Press

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