Occupy Movement Stirs Across The Country

The Occupy Wall Street movement marked May 1, International Workers Day, with demonstrations and gatherings across the country. It was the movement’s most visible day since last year, when encampments in major cities were forcibly dismantled.Crowds of varying sizes manifested in a number of cities, while reports of scuffles with police, arrests, and vandalism came in throughout the day.

In New York, protesters gathered at various places across the city, from Midtown to Union Square to Wall Street. By 11 a.m., “many hundreds” of people were in Bryant Park, across the street from the Bank of America tower (earlier in the morning, several dozen people marched in front of the tower itself shouting “Bank of America, hey hey, who did you foreclose today?”), according to The New York Times.

A rally and concert in Union Square attracted a crowd of thousands, according to The Atlantic Wire, and featured, among other things, Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello leading a sing-along of “This Land Is Our Land.”

By late afternoon, police were telling the Times that 30 people had been arrested in the city in connection with the protests, all on disorderly conduct charges.

On the other side of the country, in Oakland, police fired tear gas and used flash-bang grenades on several hundred protesters near City Hall, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. Three people were detained and a Taser was used on at least one person. Protesters threw plastic bottles at police, and reportedly broke windows on an unmarked police van and a TV news van. (Late last night, between 50 and 100 people in San Francisco smashed windows and threw paintballs on a city street.)

“We are here today because capitalism has destroyed basic human need,” a 20-year-old protester in Oakland, who identified himself as Connor, told the paper.

In Chicago, protesters, anti-war demonstrators, and union supporters held a series of rallies and marches in the city’s business district. A rally of about 1,000 people wrapped up at Federal Plaza, and police reported no arrests to The Chicago Tribune.

Things did not go smoothly in Seattle. Protesters broke a window, lit a small fire, and fired paintballs at the U.S. Court of Appeals building, according to The Seattle Times, and a number of storefronts had windows broken. Mayor Mike McGinn announced that he would sign an emergency order authorizing police to seize items that can be used as weapons.

Occupy Cleveland cancelled its activities Tuesday after the FBI arrested a group of five alleged anarchists who allegedly plotted to blow up a bridge.