The protest is being driven by social media
Arrests total about 100 people
Some protesters are accusing police of using excessive force
Demonstrators have taken inspiration from the Arab Spring protests
Protests to draw attention to the power of Wall Street firms in the United States and world economies will continue for an 11th straight day in lower Manhattan Tuesday.
“Our main concern is the way that democracy is hijacked through wealth inequality,” said Patrick Bruner, a spokesman for the protest group Occupy Wall Street. Bruner said protestors plan to present a list of demands, though they don’t know when or to whom they will present them to.
The group, taking its inspiration from the Arab Spring protests that swept through Africa and the Middle East, has taken up residence in a park in New York’s Financial District, calling for 20,000 people to flood the area for a “few months” to press home their point. Social media fueled those uprisings in places like Egypt and Libya and organizers are hoping it will work in the United States too.
“The rich are getting away with a huge crime,” documentary filmmaker Michael Moore said Monday on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.” “Nobody’s been arrested on Wall Street for the crash of 2008. They’re not paying their fair share of the taxes.”
“I do well,” Moore acknowledged, but “we reward people for making money off money, and moving money around and dividing up mortgages a thousand times over, selling it to China … and it becomes this shell game.”
Moore spoke to the protesters before appearing on CNN, telling them that he’ll be happy when “the real people in this country are in charge” and he doesn’t have to make another movie or write another book on what he sees as the social and political ills of America.
About 100 people have been arrested during the protests, police said. People were apprehended for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and assaulting a police officer, said New York City Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne. Most of the arrests came Saturday. There were no arrests Sunday and Monday, protest organizers said.
Demonstrators have accused police of using excessive force, following the release of a video from Saturday that shows an officer pepper spraying several women.
“This officer in a white shirt just came around and sprayed me and three other girls in the face,” said Chelsea Elliott, one of the women from the video. “Of course the rest blew into everyone around us and the cop in front of me got hit too.”
“It was one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen,” said Amanda Clarke, another protester who witnessed the incident. “It was absolutely horrible to see.”
Elliott called the incident “inexcusable” and said she plans to file a formal complaint.
The Occupy Wall Street website calls for the officer to be “charged for his crimes” and jailed. The group also has demanded that Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly resign and that Mayor Michael Bloomberg “apologize for the police brutality and the cover-up that followed.”
Appropriate and necessary force was used, police said.
“Protestors who engage in civil disobedience can expect to be arrested,” Browne said. “Those who resist arrest can expect some measure of force will be used.”
Police say the videos failed to capture or edited out important events that led to the eventual altercation. It’s a charge protesters have denied. The group has posted multiple videos showing the incident on its web page.
The protest campaign – which uses the hashtag #occupywallstreet on the microblogging site Twitter – began in July with the launch of a simple campaign website calling for a march and a sit-in at the New York Stock Exchange, just as demonstrators did in the Middle East and Africa.
“The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%,” the group’s website said.
CNN’s Maggie Schneider, Logan Burruss and Jesse Solomon contributed to this report.