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Denver police move into Wall Street protest area

Denver police move into Wall Street protest area

Dozens of police in riot gear have herded Wall Street protesters away from the Colorado state Capitol grounds, arresting about two dozen and dismantling their encampment.
Most retreated without resisting. Some chanted "Peaceful!" or "Shameful!" as police moved in early Friday.
The protesters have been camped at the Capitol for about three weeks in support of the national Occupy Wall Street movement.
Officers dragged some from the camp and led others by the arm. Police carried stragglers to small groundskeeper tractors and drove them away.
Authorities began taking down dozens of tents before dawn. Later, officers advanced on a line of protesters who had locked arms around the remaining tents. Officers held their batons horizontally and nudged or pushed the protesters to break up the human chain.
In New York, meanwhile, the official cleanup of a plaza in lower Manhattan where protesters have been camped out for a month was postponed early Friday, sending up cheers from a crowd that had scrambled to scrub the park on its own out of fear the effort was merely a pretext to evict them.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said the owners of the private park, Brookfield Office Properties, had put off the cleaning.
Several protests are planned this weekend in the U.S., Canada and Europe, as well as in Asia and Africa, and the official capitulation in New York could buoy those events.
"I think it's really a prophetic moment," said Annie Gonzalez, a student at Union Theological Seminary who wore a sign identifying her as an Occupy Wall Street chaplain. She likened the protesters to "the prophets of the Old Testament, crying out that there's no justice."
Supporters of the New York protesters, including union members, had started streaming into the park in the morning darkness well beforehand in a show of solidarity.
There was still skepticism even after the protesters were told they could stay, for now.
"I'll believe it when we're able to stay here," said protester Peter Hogness, 56, a union employee from Brooklyn. "One thing we have learned from this is that we need to rely on ourselves and not on promises from elected officials."
The "mother" protest in New York that began a month ago has spawned similar encampments in cities across the U.S. and world, and in places beyond New York it was clear that officials' patience was wearing thin.
A number of cities, like Denver, have been trying to get the protesters to stop sleeping on the streets and in parks.
In Trenton, New Jersey, protesters were ordered to remove tents from their encampment near a war memorial.
Boisterous cheers floated up from the crowd in New York as the announcement of the cleaning postponement circulated, and a small group soon marched away with brooms, saying they were going to clean up Wall Street, a few blocks away.
There were reports of a handful of arrests.
Brookfield, a publicly traded real estate firm, had planned to power-wash the New York plaza section by section over 12 hours and allow the protesters back _ but without much of the equipment they needed to sleep and camp there. The company called the conditions at the park unsanitary and unsafe.
The company said it now believes it can work out an arrangement with the protesters that "will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use," the statement said.
Even before the protesters learned they were allowed to stay Friday, they were busy cleaning.
After the announcement filtered through the crowd, some scrubbed the park's marble and pavement with brooms and soapy water and picked up trash as others unfurled tarps on the rain-dampened concrete and ate potluck breakfast off paper plates. One man practiced his yoga sun salutation despite the dark clouds.
Liane Nikitovich, 44, fitness instructor, said she was buoyed by the news but also concerned that it was a postponement _ not a cancellation.
"It's really a victory for freedom of speech and for democracy," Nikitovich said. "This is one moment. It shows that our support is growing worldwide."
The protesters' demands are wide-ranging, but they are united in blaming Wall Street and corporate interests for the economic pain they say all but the wealthiest Americans have endured since the financial meltdown.
The nationwide movement also includes groups called Occupy Boston, Occupy Cincinnati, Occupy Houston, Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Philadelphia, Occupy Providence and Occupy Salt Lake.
Several protests are planned this weekend across the U.S. and Canada, and European activists are also organizing.
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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Karen Matthews, Colleen Long, Larry Neumeister, Tom McElroy, Cara Anna, Deepti Hajela, Cristian Salazar, Verena Dobnik, and Meghan Barr, and photographer Mary Altaffer in New York; and Thomas Peipert in Denver.


Updated : 2021-10-20 04:51 GMT+08:00