NEW YORK — Anti-Wall Street protesters exulted Friday after beating back a plan to clear them from the park they have occupied for the past month, saying the victory will embolden the movement across the United States and beyond.
"We are going to piggy-back off the success of today, and it's going to be bigger than we ever imagined," said protester Daniel Zetah.
The showdown in New York came as tensions were rising in several U.S. cities over the spreading protests, with several arrests and scattered clashes between demonstrators and police.
The owners of Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan had announced plans to temporarily evict the hundreds of protesters at 7 a.m. Friday so that the grounds could be power-washed. But the protesters feared it was a pretext to break up the demonstration, and they vowed to stand their ground, raising the prospect of clashes with police.
Just minutes before the appointed hour, the word came down that the park's owners, Brookfield Office Properties, had postponed the cleanup. A boisterous cheer went up among the demonstrators, whose numbers had swelled to about 2,000 before daybreak in response to a call for help in fending off the police.
In a statement, Brookfield said it decided to delay the cleaning "for a short period of time" at the request of "a number of local political leaders." It gave no details.
State Sen. Daniel Squadron, a Democrat who represents lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, said he had conversations late into the night urging Brookfield's CEO to wait.
"The stakeholders must come together to find a solution that respects the protesters' fundamental rights, while addressing the legitimate quality-of-life concerns in this growing residential neighborhood," Squadron said in a statement.
Over the past month, the protest against corporate greed and economic inequality has spread to cities across the United States and around the world. Several demonstrations are planned this weekend in the United States, Canada and Europe, as well as in Asia and Africa.
In Denver, police in riot gear herded hundreds of protesters away from the Colorado state Capitol early Friday, arresting about two dozen people and dismantling their encampment. In Trenton, N.J., protesters were ordered to remove tents near a war memorial. San Diego police used pepper spray to break up a human chain formed around a tent by anti-Wall Street demonstrators.
In New York City, police arrested 15 people, including protesters who obstructed traffic by standing or sitting in the street and others who turned over trash baskets and hurled bottles.