The Occupy Wall Street movement entered its third month Thursday with protests against the economic system in dozens of cities across the country. Reports estimated some 300 people were arrested nationwide, with the majority of the arrests taking place in New York City when protesters attempted to shut down the New York Stock Exchange. "We effectively shut down Wall Street this morning. We did it with our stories, with our bodies, with our hearts," says one of the organizers of the action. Democracy Now! reporter Ryan Devereaux filed this report. [includes rush transcript]
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JUAN GONZALEZ: The Occupy Wall Street movement entered its third month Thursday with protests against the economic system in dozens of cities across the country. Police report over 300 people were arrested nationwide, with the majority of those arrests taking place here in New York City when protesters attempted to shut down the New York Stock Exchange. Democracy Now!’s Ryan Devereaux was there and filed this report.
PROTESTERS: Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets!
RYAN DEVEREAUX: Thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters swarmed the streets of Lower Manhattan Thursday morning, kicking off a day of mass demonstrations and the arrest of well over 200 people.
PROTESTERS: Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!
RYAN DEVEREAUX: After weeks of planning, protesters chose to clog the Financial District with a series of staggered marches, entering the Financial District from multiple directions in an effort to delay the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange and shut down Wall Street. The demonstrators linked arms and formed human barricades in front of key intersections in the area. According to organizers of the action, online RSVPs for the protest tripled after protesters were evicted from their base of operations at Zuccotti Park, renamed Liberty Square earlier this week.
PROTESTER: Well, we are hearing from Occupy movement occupations in other places that have been evicted, but, you know, you can’t evict an idea whose time has come. And I think people are getting stronger every day and feeling like, you know, this is the time to start movement building and looking towards the future, building an economic justice movement that works for everybody.
RYAN DEVEREAUX: The city responded to the demonstration with full force. At least four helicopters hovered overhead while scores of NYPD officers, vehicles and barricades could be seen on every street. Police used batons and physical force to break up human barricades and forcibly arrested protesters who defied orders to stay out of the street. The department claims more than 240 people were arrested over the course of the morning. Though the opening bell did ring and Wall Street managed to conduct business as usual, the daily operations of the Financial District were significantly altered by the day’s actions. The protesters largely viewed the demonstration as a success and a declaration that the Occupy movement is still strong.
Lisa Fithian is a longtime organizer who became involved with Occupy Wall Street prior to the September 17th protest.
LISA FITHIAN: Today was an amazing demonstration of people power. We had thousands of people pour into the streets around Wall Street, marching together strongly, dropping off hundreds of people at each access point, that it was closed down. We set up human barricades, people linking arms, preventing people from getting inside. We effectively shut down Wall Street this morning. We did it with our stories, with our bodies, with our hearts. And I’m very proud of what we did here today, because we showed the world that we can come out—they can evict us from our homes, but they can’t take us out of the streets, and they can’t stop our spirit. And we put our bodies out today. People were arrested, blocking people coming in. And it’s been a huge day so far. And I look forward to see what we do the rest of the day, the march later today and actions around the country.
RYAN DEVEREAUX: For Democracy Now!, this is Ryan Devereaux.