Several Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested Friday after they embarked on an impromptu victory march through Lower Manhattan following the cancellation of a plan to clean the privately owned park where they have been camped for 28 days.
Protesters had seen the planned cleanup as a ploy to evict them from Zuccotti Park, even though park owner Brookfield Office Properties said it wanted to move people only temporarily so it could scrub the plaza. But it also said that when protesters returned, they no longer could have tents, sleeping bags or tarps.
As protesters' numbers swelled Thursday night, Brookfield was flooded with phone calls from local elected officials who support the protest, warning it to cancel the cleaning, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a radio interview.
After the change in plans became known, about 250 chanting, sign-waving protesters marched peacefully to City Hall. Police spokesman Paul Browne said an estimated eight to 10 people were arrested at a second, impromptu march deeper into the financial district.
Zuccotti Park was known as Liberty Park until 2006, when it was renamed in honor of John Zuccotti, co-chairman of Brookfield Office Properties and a former New York deputy mayor and planning director. Brookfield is a publicly traded commercial real estate firm based in New York. It owns or manages properties in the United States, Canada and Australia, including Bank of America Plaza and the 601 Figueroa building in downtown Los Angeles.
Bloomberg, whose longtime companion, Diana Taylor, is on Brookfield's board of directors, has repeatedly said he supported the right of everyone to protest, but also has made it clear he's getting impatient.
"The protesters in all fairness have been very peaceful there, but it is a very big crowd and it's one point of view," Bloomberg told WOR radio. "The longer this goes on, the worse it is for our economy. You just go down and talk to the stores in the neighborhood.... Most say this really is hurting them."
Meanwhile, nearly two dozen people were arrested and tents were removed from the Occupy Denver protest, and protesters in Trenton, N.J., were ordered to remove tents from their encampment, local media reported.
Authorities in New York, London, Frankfurt, Athens and elsewhere braced for demonstrations Saturday, Reuters reported, with rallies planned in about 71 countries.