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Thu November 17, 2011
Occupy Demonstrators Mark Two Months Of Protests
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
From New York to California and places in between, Occupy protesters are in the streets today. That's because it was exactly two months ago that the movement began in a New York City park. Police in riot gear were deployed in lower Manhattan this morning, as hundreds of demonstrators marched with the aim of shutting down Wall Street. NPR correspondent Margot Adler has been following the events, and she joins us now live. Good morning, Margot.
MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: Where are you exactly? And what are you seeing there?
ADLER: Well, right now, I'm actually in Zuccotti Park, the place that, of course, has been the home to Occupy Wall Street for two months. And it's just because people are here regrouping. But for the last three hours, we - I was, you know, with all these thousands of people. And it's very hard to know how many people, because there were many different parts of this march, and they were all going through the narrow canyons of the Wall Street area. So it was very hard to figure out.
And there were huge blockades everywhere. And at one point, I got, probably, as close to the Stock Exchange as anybody was going to get. This is at about Pine and Nassau Street. And at that point, there were huge blockades, huge barricades. There were police on horseback. There were probably hundreds of police. And then some people tried to sit down in the street at that point. And there was - and there were probably at least 12 arrests that I saw and probably many more.
MONTAGNE: Well, have they managed, in fact, this morning, to shut down Wall Street?
ADLER: Well, they didn't. I mean, it looks the opening bell went apparently as in normal time, but they did make it very inconvenient. I met an attorney, for example, who was - who's at that - he tried to get into 40 Wall Street, which is a place where many lawyers have their offices. And while he could get in if you had ID, if you were just going there with a deposition or something like that, you were not going to be let in. It was very hard for traffic. There were taxis that basically spent at least 40 minutes trying to get around.
The mood of the people, the protesters, was really mixed. In some ways, fun and upbeat. There were singing happy birthday to Occupy Wall Street. There were shouts, of course, against the police, particularly when people were arrested. And - but at the same time, people were shouting to the police, things like, they want your pensions too. They want your pensions too. You should be on our side, you know. Who are you trying to protect? And so forth. So there was a real - and a real mix of people.
I met some people who had come here from Haines, Alaska, middle-aged people who have a tiny Occupy Wall Street there. And they just wanted to see what was going on here.
MONTAGNE: So it sounds like the mood is mixed. What are the protesters' plans for the rest of the day? I gather they - well, they've been blocking traffic, but what are they planning to do for the rest of the day?
ADLER: Well, let me tell you just about one other thing before I get to that, which was the most amazing thing I saw, was a Philadelphia retired policeman, full uniform, being arrested. His name was Ray Lewis, and that was fascinating.
But as far as the rest of the day goes, they have plans to have what's called a speak out at subway stations. Now, some of the news media and police have called this an attempt to clog subways. But it's very unclear whether they're trying to have a speak out where they talk to people who are in the subways. Do they meet in the trains? Do they meet in the stations? No one knows. And then, after that, there is supposed to be a huge rally at Foley Square, which is, of course, where the courts are, where the city hall is. And that, in the past, has been a huge place for large demonstrations, where unions have come up. So I would imagine that's going to be where it is.
MONTAGNE: Margot, thanks very much.
ADLER: You're welcome.
MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Margot Adler in New York City, in the midst of demonstrators on the two-month anniversary of Wall Street. Margot, thanks. Goodbye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.