NEW YORK — Occupy Wall Street protesters clogged streets and tied up traffic around the U.S. on Thursday to mark two months since the movement’s birth and signal they aren’t ready to quit, despite the breakup of many of their encampments by police. Hundreds of people were arrested, most of them in New York.
The demonstrations — which took place in cities including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, Washington and Portland, Ore. — were for the most part peaceful. Most of the arrests were for blocking streets, and the traffic disruptions were brief.
Chanting “All day, all week, shut down Wall Street,” more than 1,000 protesters gathered near the New York Stock Exchange and sat down in several intersections. Helmeted police officers broke up some of the gatherings, and operations at the stock market were not disrupted.
As darkness fell, a coalition of unions and progressive groups joined Occupy demonstrators in staging rallies at landmark bridges in several U.S. cities to protest joblessness.
In New York, a crowd of several thousand people, led by banner-carrying members of the Service Employees International Union, jammed Manhattan’s Foley Square and then marched peacefully across the Brooklyn Bridge on a pedestrian promenade.
As they walked, a powerful light projected the slogan “We are the 99 percent” — a reference to the Americans who aren’t super-rich — on the side of a nearby skyscraper. Police officers dressed in wind breakers, rather than riot gear, arrested at least two dozen people who walked out onto the bridges’ roadway but otherwise let the marchers pass without incident.
Several weeks ago, an attempt to march across the bridge drew the first significant international attention to the Occupy movement as more than 700 people were arrested.
Thursday’s protests came two days after police raided and demolished the encampment at lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park that had served as headquarters of the Occupy movement and as demonstrators and union allies tried to regain their momentum.
“This is a critical moment for the movement given what happened the other night,” said demonstrator Paul Knick, a software engineer from Montclair, N.J.