Originally published in Newsday: January 29, 2012 7:03 PM
Updated: January 29, 2012 10:37 PM
By From staff and wire reports
Photo credit: Howard Schnapp | Occupy Wall Street protesters march towards Thompkins Square Park in New York, New York. (Jan. 29, 2012)
Close to 300 Occupy Wall Street protesters marched through the streets of Manhattan Sunday night in a show of support for anti-Wall Street demonstrators in Oakland, Calif., more than 400 of whom were arrested during weekend clashes with police.
The protesters gathered at Washington Square Park before taking to the streets, closely tracked by NYPD officers. There were scattered arrests as police moved in on marchers, who appeared to be blocking traffic or disobeying police directives.
The protesters carried signs reading, “This is for Oakland,” and chanted to police, “You’re sexy! You’re cute! Take off your riot suit!” Both sides, police and protesters, were video recording the confrontations.
VIDEO: Protesters march in NYC
“I am here in solidarity with Oakland and all my people,” said Eric Smith, 39, of Brooklyn. “I love this movement; we are changing the world.”
As of late Sunday night, the protesters were still on the streets. Similar protests to show solidarity with Occupy Oakland were taking place in other cities across the country.
In Washington, D.C., police used a stun gun to subdue an anti-Wall Street protester during an arrest at a park near the White House Sunday as tensions rose ahead of a police order for the demonstrators to stop camping in the parks overnight. That order, if carried out as promised, will start at noon Monday.
The anti-Wall Street protesters in Oakland were arrested during a night of skirmishes in which police fired tear gas and bean bag projectiles, the city said yesterday, in one of the biggest mass arrests since nationwide economic protests began last year.
Earlier in the day, the arrest figure was given as between 200 and 300. The Oakland emergency operations center issued a statement that revised that up to more than 400, and said police were expected to announce a more precise number later.
On Saturday night, riot police fought running skirmishes with protesters during which three officers and one demonstrator were injured.
The scuffles began in the afternoon as activists sought to take over a shuttered downtown convention center, sparking cat-and-mouse battles that lasted well into the night in a city that has seen tensions between police and protesters boil over repeatedly.
Oakland has become an unlikely flash point of the national Occupy protests against economic inequality that began last year in New York’s financial district.
The protests in most cities have been peaceful and sparked a national debate over how much of the country’s wealth is held by the richest 1 percent of the population. President Barack Obama has sought to capitalize on the attention by calling for higher taxes on the richest Americans.
Protests focused on Oakland after a former Marine, Scott Olsen, was critically injured during a demonstration in October. Protesters said he was hit in the head by a tear-gas canister, but authorities have never said exactly how he was hurt.
The Occupy movement appeared to lose momentum late last year as police cleared protest camps in cities across the country.
Violence erupted again Saturday in Oakland when protesters attempted to take over the apparently empty downtown convention center to establish a new headquarters and draw attention to the problem of homelessness. Police in riot gear moved in, firing smoke grenades, tear gas and beanbag projectiles to drive the crowd back.
With Matthew Chayes
and Will Van Sant