As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to spread across the country, the protesters in the place where it all started, New York City, are being blamed for the recent clashes with police, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
What they did is they counted. They actually had a countdown - 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 - they grouped together, they joined arms and they charged the police. They attacked the police. They wanted to get into Wall Street, they wanted to occupy Wall Street, Kelly told reporters.
New YorK City Demonstrations: 28 Arrested Wednesday
On Wednesday, police arrested 28 people, mostly for disorderly conduct. At least one arrest was for assaulting a police officer and, police said, one protestor knocked an officer off his scooter, CBS New York reported.
The commissioner said if the Occupy Wall Street protestors target the police, authorities will respond with force.
They're going to be met with force when they do that - this is just common sense, Kelly said. These people wanted to have confrontation with the police for whatever reason. Somehow, I guess it works to their purposes.
Kelly also told reporters that the protests, thus far, have cost the city about $2 million in overtime for officers assigned to cover the demonstrations.
Despite the skirmishes, Kelly maintained that as long as the protestors were peaceful, and followed the rules, there would be no problems.
We are accommodating peaceful protests. We are proud of the fact that we do that in this city. People are going to be here for an extended period of time. We're going to accommodate them as long as they do it peacefully and in accordance with the laws and regulations, he said.
Occupy Wall Street official began Sept. 17 in a park in downtown Manhattan.
At Issue: Corporate Capitalism and Free Markets
The movement, which is an offshoot of online magazine AdBusters, is angered by what it calls the principle of profit over and above all else. This, they argue, has dominated America's economic policies and the way in which Americans view culture and humanity.
Posts on the Web site compare the group's efforts to those used in pro-democracy movements across the Middle East, known as the Arab Spring.
On the 17th of September, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months, one statement read. Like our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Greece, Spain and Iceland, we plan to use the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic of mass occupation to restore democracy in America. We also encourage the use of nonviolence to achieve our ends and maximize the safety of all participants.
The San Francisco chapter has been operating less publicly, not counting Thursday's event, but its official Web Site said the activists have been holding general assembly meetings each evening in Justin Herman Plaza every day since New York's protests began.
On Sept. 24, at least 80 protesters involved with the movement were detained near Union Square in Manhattan; some accusing the police officers of using overly aggressive tactics as they fought to control the demonstrators who left their camp near Wall Street to march up Broadway. Police say the arrests were mostly for blocking traffic; charges included disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
It's unclear exactly what the protesters will ask for in exchange for leaving Wall Street.
More than having any specific demand, per se, I think the purpose of Sept. 17, for many of us who are helping to organize it and people who are coming out, is to begin a conversation, as citizens, as people affected by this financial system in collapse, as to how we're going to fix it, as to what we're going to do in order to make it work for us again, said Justin Wedes, an event organizer.
The rally itself was first called for by Adbusters in July.