Labor unions and students joined the growing Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City on Wednesday in the largest march since the protest began 20 days ago. Tens of thousands marched from Foley Square to Zuccotti Park, renamed “Liberty Plaza,” the site of the protest encampment where hundreds have been sleeping since Sept. 17. The march was peaceful, but police later beat a handful of protesters with batons after they toppled a police barricade in an attempt to march down Wall Street. Police say a total of 28 people were arrested. We hear from eyewitnesses to an altercation between police and protesters at Wall Street. [includes rush transcript]
JUAN GONZALEZ: Labor unions and students joined the growing Occupy Wall Street movement on Wednesday in the largest march since the protest began 20 days ago here in New York City. Tens of thousands marched from Foley Square to Liberty Plaza, the site of the protest encampment where hundreds have been sleeping since September 17th. The march was peaceful, but police later beat a handful of protesters with batons after they toppled a police barricade in an attempt to march down Wall Street. Police say a total of 28 people were arrested on Wednesday. Meanwhile, smaller protests against Wall Street continue to take part across the country.
AMY GOODMAN: Early this morning, police raided the Occupy San Francisco encampment less than a day after some thousand protesters marched through the city’s financial district. In Boston, protesters have entered their seventh day occupying of Dewey Square in the city’s financial district. In St. Louis, police arrested 10 people Wednesday. In Washington State, 26 Occupy Seattle protesters were arrested after police moved into a public park where protesters have been camped out for five days. Video shot in Seattle shows police entering a tent and arresting the activists inside.
POLICE OFFICER: Well, you better get up.
PROTESTER: Let go of him. Be wonderful. Let go of him. Be wonderful. Let go of him. Be wonderful. You’re hurting him! You’re hurting him! Get off of him! Be wonderful.
POLICE OFFICER: Bring her off to the side. Have her go out, and bring her out to the side.
AMY GOODMAN: Back here in New York, Democracy Now! was reporting last night from Liberty Plaza, the site of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, when we got word that the police were beating and pepper-spraying protesters on Wall Street. On our way to the scene, we ran across a woman being arrested.
AMY GOODMAN: What happened? What happened?
WOMAN: I was standing on the sidewalk. It’s illegal, apparently, so be careful on the sidewalk, guys.
ONLOOKER: Is that all you were doing, just standing there?
ONLOOKER: Why did they—why did they grab you?
WOMAN: They said it was unlawful assembly, but I was the only one on the corner. So, I don’t know.
MIKE BURKE: What’s your name?
WOMAN: Troy Davis. Troy Davis, Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King.
AMY GOODMAN: Minutes later, we arrived at the intersection where the police had beaten protesters on Wall Street.
We’ll go back to that tape in a minute, but voices of eyewitnesses to last night’s altercation between police—let’s go back to that video of the arrests.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re standing on the corner of Wall and Broadway. Some people are shouting, “Who are you protecting?” There are police on horseback behind us. There’s the smell of pepper spray in the air. Just a little while ago, a group of people tried to come onto Wall Street, and a number of people were arrested and pepper-sprayed.
LUKE RUDKOWSKI: My name is Luke Rudkowski from We Are Change, but I was covering the whole thing in the middle. The police just went crazy with pepper spray, with batons, started beating everybody. I was there filming it as press, just holding my camera up like this, and then the police officer came. I got some pepper spray thrown at me. One police officer—I have video of this, it’s going to be uploaded on our YouTube channel right now—took his baton sideways and just bammed me right in the stomach and then threw me on the floor. And I’m just there as a journalist. I kept telling them I’m a journalist, and they just threw everybody on the floor and kicked everybody out.
DAVID SUKER: People were just trying to walk down Wall Street, and we started marching forward, and the police held us at the barricades. And then, suddenly, one of their officers jumped into the crowd and started beating people and pepper-spraying people. The deputy inspector started swinging wildly at us, hitting people. And I got hit on my back. Many other people got hit.
PROTESTER: Upon trying to enter, the police officers brought out their clubs and their mace and sprayed at least five or six people and were—continue out there, like Luke Skywalker out there with their clubs, billying in circles, got a good number of people, probably about 20 or 30 arrests.
HERO VINCENT: I just got a thousand people just to stand with us in solidarity, because what’s going on right here is wrong. It’s absolutely wrong. People should not have been pepper-sprayed in the face, should not have been slammed to the ground. We did absolutely nothing wrong. We came peacefully. And this has gone on long enough! We just want peace! We just want change! That’s all we want! And I’m tired of seeing it! I’m tired of seeing this abuse! They do not run this country! This is our country! And I’m tired of it! I’m tired of it! This can’t happen no more!
AMY GOODMAN: Voices of eyewitnesses to last night’s police crackdown on the protesters at Wall Street.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Earlier in the day, tens of thousands of people marched from Foley Square to the site of Occupy Wall Street encampment. It was the largest rally since the protest began 20 days ago.