NEW YORK (AP) — Two days after the encampment that sparked the global Occupy protest movement was cleared by authorities, hundreds of demonstrators marched through New York's financial district Thursday and promised a national day of action with mass gatherings in other cities.
"All day, all week, shut down Wall Street!" the crowd chanted, clogging the streets near the stock exchange.
Police arrested several protesters who were sitting on the ground one block from Wall Street and refusing to move.
Some of the police hit protesters as they resisted arrest. Most of the marchers retreated.
The day of action had been planned before the city and park owners cracked down on the two-month-old encampment in Zuccotti Park, clearing out tents, tarps and sleeping bags. Similar camps have sprung up across the U.S. but face increasing pressure from local authorities, who point to health and safety concerns.
"This is a critical moment for the movement given what happened the other night," said Paul Knick, 44. "It seems like there's a concerted effort to stop the movement, and I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen."
The protest remained peaceful, and the demonstrators and police were still allowing workers to get to their offices.
Passer-by Gene Williams, a 57-year-old bond trader, joked that he was "one of the bad guys" but said he empathized with the demonstrators.
"They have a point in a lot of ways," he said. "The fact of the matter is, there is a schism between the rich and the poor and it's getting wider."
The New York group announced it would rally near the New York Stock Exchange, then fan out across Manhattan and head to subways, before gathering downtown and marching over the Brooklyn Bridge.
A past attempt to march across the bridge drew the first significant international attention to the Occupy movement when more than 700 people were arrested.
New York City officials said they had not spoken to demonstrators but were aware of the plans.
"The protesters are calling for a massive event aimed at disrupting major parts of the city," Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said. "We will be prepared for that."
The confrontations followed early-morning arrests in Dallas, where police evicted dozens of protesters from their campsite near City Hall citing public safety and hygiene issues. They arrested 18 protesters who refused to leave.
Copyright Associated Press
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