Occupy Wall Street spreads to Philadelphia, 250 at City HallOccupy Wall Street protests gather pace in US
from Belfast Telegraph
Friday, 7 October 2011
They said it could never happen in the US. At the foot of Wall Street, in the belly of the beast of aggressive market finance, 2,000 protesters demonstrating against corporate greed are attempting to push through a police barrier and occupy the iconic street.
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The NYPD are beating them back with mace and batons, one white-shirted officer lashing into the crowd indiscriminately with his nightstick.
The air tastes of pepper spray and there are screams from the crowd. “Who the f*** are you protecting?” they chant. The Obama generation is beginning to receive an ugly answer to that most basic of political inquiries.
These protesters are part of a breakout march from the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Manhattan's Liberty Plaza, which has now been in place for almost three weeks. Copycat demonstrations against economic injustice are springing up in cities across the US, and many thousands are involved.
Two hours earlier, a crowd of 20,000 students, labour members, activists and angry citizens are chanting over the sound of drums that “the people, united, will never be defeated!”
Labour unions have been swift to come out in support of the occupiers and rally in Foley Square, taking up their mantra: “We are the 99%” — the majority of the American people who have been cheated out of their share in the nation's wealth by the remaining “1%”.
“We are here to thank you!” a worker involved in the strike against Verizon tells the crowd. “We have to take back this city, take back our democracy.”
The process of taking back democracy, however, is rarely painless. As the cry goes up to “march on Wall Street”, the police begin to move in. To date, 23 arrests of peaceful protesters have been recorded in New York. On Broadway, demonstrators are dragged off the pavements and taken away by police.
One of them is a young white woman, who I see being hustled along by a number of officers. “I was standing on the sidewalk. Apparently that's illegal now,” she says, as police twist her hands and shove her into a car.