Wall Street Protesters in Standoff With Police

Posted November 17th, 2011 at 12:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Protests in New York City are intensifying as hundreds of anti-capitalist demonstrators push back against police and dismantle barriers around Wall Street.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters have promised a major show of strength Thursday on the two-month anniversary of their movement.

Demonstrators have vowed to shut down the city's financial district with a rally at the New York Stock Exchange. As the situation escalated, several protesters could be seen being arrested.

The latest development comes two days after the city evicted protesters from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, where they had been camping since September. They were allowed to return to the public space, but were prohibited from camping.

The protesters say they plan to take Thursday's demonstration to the city's subways and major bridges.

New York Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson told reporters Wednesday the city was preparing for a crowd of “tens of thousands.”

After police dismantled their camp Tuesday, demonstrators filed a motion seeking to be allowed back into the park with their tents and sleeping bags. But a judge ruled that the park's ban on sleeping did not violate the protesters' constitutional right to free speech.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he agrees with the judge's decision that free speech does not include the right to “endanger the public or infringe on the rights of others by taking over a public space.”

Zuccotti Park had become the epicenter of the Occupy protest movement, sparking similar occupations of other public spaces throughout the United States and in other countries.

Tensions between protesters and local U.S. authorities have escalated as police move to clear the encampments. The clearing of the Occupy camp in New York follows recent evictions in cities such as Atlanta, Portland, and Oakland .

The Occupy Wall Street website said Atlanta, Portland, Detroit and Washington DC also would hold protests Thursday. Overseas, rallies were planned in Belgium, Germany and Spain.