October 3, 2011 in Nation/World

Protesters will stay ‘as long as we can’

Occupy Wall Street movement gaining momentum, followers
Verena Dobnik Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Protesters at the Occupied Wall Street Journal’s media area coordinate news updates on laptop computers in Manhattan’s financial district’s Zuccotti Park on Sunday.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – The protesters who have been camping out in Manhattan’s Financial District for more than two weeks eat donated food and keep their laptops running with a portable gas-powered generator. They have a newspaper – the Occupied Wall Street Journal – and a makeshift hospital.

They lack a clear objective, though they speak against corporate greed, social inequality, global climate change and other concerns. But they’re growing in numbers, getting more organized and showing no sign of quitting.

City officials “thought we were going to leave, and we haven’t left,” 19-year-old protester Kira Moyer-Sims said. “We’re going to stay as long as we can.”

The arrests of more than 700 people Saturday as thousands tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge seemed to pour oil on the rage of those who camped out overnight in Zuccotti Park, a private plaza off Broadway near Wall Street.

The growing, cross-country movement “signals a shift in consciousness,” said Jared Schy, a young man sitting squeezed between three others who participated in Saturday’s march from Manhattan’s financial district to the bridge.

“We don’t care whether mainstream media covers this or people see us on television. What counts are the more than 30,000 viewers following our online live stream,” he said. “We heard from a lot of them, and they’re joining us now!”

The Occupy Wall Street demonstration started out last month with fewer than a dozen college students spending days and nights in Zuccotti Park. It has grown significantly, both in New York City and elsewhere as people across the country, from Boston to Los Angeles, display their solidarity in similar protests.

Moyer-Sims, of Portland, said the group has grown much more organized. “We have a protocol for most things,” she said, including getting legal help for people who are arrested.

The protesters have spent most of their time in the plaza, sleeping on air mattresses, holding assemblies to discuss their goals and listening to speakers including filmmaker Michael Moore and Princeton University professor Cornel West.

On the past two Saturdays, though, they marched to other parts of the city, which led to tense standoffs with police. On Sept. 24, about 100 people were arrested and the group put out video which showed some women being hit with pepper spray by a police official. On Saturday, more than 700 people were arrested as the group attempted to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

Gatherings elsewhere included one in Providence, R.I., that attracted about 60 people to a public park. The participants called it a “planning meeting” and initially debated whether to allow reporters to cover it.

In Boston, protesters set up an encampment across the street from the Federal Reserve Building.

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