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Occupy protesters march nationwide; at least 300 arrested in New York

NEW YORK — Nearly a thousand protesters took to the streets of Lower Manhattan on Thursday, clashing with the police and tossing aside metal barricades to converge again on Zuccotti Park after failing in an attempt to shut down the New York Stock Exchange.

Across the nation, Occupy Wall Street protesters clogged streets and tied up traffic to mark two months since the movement's birth and to signal they aren't ready to quit. In New York, the so-called day of action came two days after the police cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment from Zuccotti Park in an early-morning raid. Removed from the park that had become their de facto headquarters, protesters looked to Thursday to gauge the support and mettle that the movement still retained.

"We failed to close the stock exchange, but we took back our park," said Adam Farooqui, 25, of Queens. "That was a real victory."

At least 300 people were arrested in New York. Some were bloodied during the arrests. One man was taken into custody for throwing liquid, possibly vinegar, into the faces of several police officers, authorities said. Many demonstrators were carrying vinegar as an antidote for pepper spray.

The demonstrations — in cities including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, Washington, New Orleans, Miami, Philadelphia and Portland, Ore. — were for the most part peaceful. Most of the arrests were for blocking streets, and traffic disruptions were brief.

Chanting "All day, all week, shut down Wall Street," more than 1,000 protesters gathered near the New York Stock Exchange and sat down in several intersections. Helmeted police officers broke up some of the gatherings. Operations at the stock market were not disrupted.

As darkness fell, a coalition of unions and progressive groups joined Occupy demonstrators in staging rallies at landmark bridges in several U.S. cities.

Several of the demonstrations coincided with an event planned months earlier by a coalition of unions and liberal groups, including and the SEIU, in which out-of-work people walked over bridges in several cities to protest high unemployment.

The street demonstrations were planned well before police raided a number of encampments over the past few days but were seen by some activists as a way to demonstrate their resolve in the wake of the crackdown.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said police had been expecting as many as 10,000 protesters based on what activists had been saying online. But he said there had been "minimal disruption."

Information from the Associated Press, New York Times and Miami Herald was used in this report.

Around the nation

Los Angeles: About 500 sympathizers marched downtown between the Bank of America tower and Wells Fargo Plaza, chanting, "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" More than two dozen people were arrested.

PORTLAND, ORE.: Police deployed pepper spray and arrested 34 people as a crowd of about 1,000 gathered outside major banks, many of which locked their doors.

Seattle: Hundreds of Occupy Seattle and labor demonstrators shut down the University Bridge as part of a national day of action demanding jobs. Traffic was snarled around Seattle's University District as two rallies marched toward the bridge.

ST. LOUIS: At least a dozen people were arrested in the evening after they sat down cross-legged and locked arms in an attempt to block a bridge over the Mississippi River.

Berkeley, Calif.: Two demonstrators were arrested and about 20 tents removed at the University of California, Berkeley.

Chicago: Hundreds of protesters organized by labor and community groups marched toward the Chicago River. They stopped at the river bridge and shut it down to rush-hour traffic. Police officers scrambled to divert cars and pedestrians. People watched the protests from office windows and bus stops.

Dallas: Police evicted dozens of protesters near City Hall, citing health and safety reasons. Eighteen protesters were arrested.

LAS VEGAS: Police arrested 21 demonstrators.

MIAMI: Protesters began making their way from Little Havana toward Brickell shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, many carrying signs saying "This is our home, not our dump" and "Too many problems for one sign." The crowd, which included many union members, began swelling as downtown office workers ended their workday. Traffic was immediately jammed in the area.

PHILADELPHIA: City officials and demonstrators were trying to decide their next step as about 100 protesters were under orders to clear out to make way for a long-planned $50 million plaza renovation at City Hall. Union leaders pressed the demonstrators to leave, saying construction jobs were stake.

Occupy protesters march nationwide; at least 300 arrested in New York 11/17/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 17, 2011 11:44pm]
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