NEW YORK —
More than 100 arrests have marked the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. Police headed off an attempt by protesters to actually occupy the street that is synonymous with American finance.
Demonstrators sought to occupy Wall Street only to find police already there. Nonetheless, protesters got within one block of the New York Stock Exchange to make their point that a wealthy one percent of Americans has allegedly usurped power in the United States.
Barry Knight, a farmer from Massachusetts, says Americans must retake control of their government from corporations.
“Unfortunately, we’re now living in a government that is run by big banks, lobbies, corporations and no longer represents the people of the United States," he said. "What was once a democratic republic is now a 'corptocracy.'"
Police made numerous arrests on charges of obstructing traffic on streets or sidewalks. Among those detained was Antonio Serna who says he came to demonstrate for a variety of causes.
“Freedom, end [the] prison system, free education; a lot of things - too many," he said.
A side demonstration focused attention on environmental issues such as pollution and the so-called "fracking" of shale for natural gas. This trio of protestors satirized what they say is corrupt corporate financing of U.S. elections. The puppeteer, Mr. Money Banks, says it makes no difference whether Americans vote for incumbent president Barack Obama or challenger Mitt Romney - he bought them both.
“I’ve got it all taken care of," he said. "They just do what I tell them to do, and everything’s fine!”
The Occupy movement has been criticized for failure to offer solutions to the problems it raises. One group of Occupy activists wants to remain above politics. A smaller group says the movement won’t succeed unless it enters the political fray. Sherman Jackson is among them.
“A lot of people say politics is corrupt so they don’t want to go that route," he said. "But inevitably, it’s those elected officials and it’s the people who finance their campaigns that are passing the laws that are making the policies that we feel need to change.”
Occupy marked its first anniversary with a lot of noise, and demonstrators denounced police for allegedly manhandling arrestees. But ultimately, it was the police, at the behest of elected public officials, who occupied Wall Street and kept protesters outside looking in.