Published November 16, 2011
NEW YORK – Two days after the encampment that sparked the global Occupy movement was cleared by authorities, demonstrators in New York City and around the country were promising mass gatherings Thursday in support of the cause.
The day of action had been planned before the city and park owners cracked down on the encampment in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, but took on added importance to the protesters after tents, tarps and sleeping bags were cleared out early Tuesday and the granite plaza was cleaned for the first time since the group arrived more than two months ago.
"We will get boots on the ground again," said Rory Simpson, 29, who described himself as an itinerant activist as he made signs Wednesday evening. "This is not over yet."
Police will be on hand and transit officials were preparing to deal with a crush of people as part of the protest billed as a national day of action. The group announced it would rally near the New York Stock Exchange, then fan out across Manhattan and head to subways, before gathering downtown and marching over the Brooklyn bridge. "Resist austerity. Rebuild the economy. Reclaim our democracy," the group wrote in a news release.
Similar protests were planned around the county. New York City officials said they had not spoken to demonstrators but were aware of the plans.
"The protesters are calling for a massive event aimed at disrupting major parts of the city," Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said. "We will be prepared for that."
It's not clear how many demonstrators would actually attend. Previous protests in New York have consisted of several hundred people.
Organizers are calling for non-violent demonstrations, but that hasn't stopped some protesters from demanding a fiery confrontation with authorities.
"On the 17th, we’re going to burn New York City to the ... ground," one protester can be heard saying in video recorded after the protesters' home base, Zuccotti Park, was cleared Tuesday.
“No more talking. They’ve got guns, we’ve got bottles. They’ve got bricks, we’ve got rocks…in a few days you’re going to see what a Molotov cocktail can do to Macy’s," the unidentified man spouted in the video.
New York City police said late Wednesday that they arrested the man in the video, identified as Tinsley Nkrumah, a 29-year-old Bronx man. He was taken into custody in Zuccotti Park and charged with making terroristic threats and aggravated harassment.
There is no indication that the man was part of a wider plan to carry out violence, though police across the country have been on guard against the potential for such threats in the Occupy movement.
The protesters Thursday will be joined by some angry city leaders who have publicly denounced Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the raid early Tuesday that dismantled the tent city in the plaza. Protesters were allowed to return that night, two at a time, but police were enforcing a ban on sleeping there.
Organizers say the loss of the campsite in Zuccotti Park may help broaden the movement. The head of the group's finances says it will open up a dialogue with organizers in other cities and take the protest to the next level.
Tuesday's raid was the third in a span of three days across the country. Police broke up camps Sunday in Portland, Ore., and Monday in Oakland, Calif.
Late Tuesday night, about a dozen Occupy Wall Street protesters were in Zuccotti Park, talking and trying to stay awake.
They were sitting on the park's marble benches, occasionally chanting "We are the 99 percent" and other protest slogans as about 30 police officers were looking on.
A judge ruled Tuesday that the protesters could return to Zuccotti but could not set up camp.
Some of the overnight protesters were holding up signs.
One reads "Police, who do you protect really?" It's posted on the metal barricade that was constructed around the park after the protesters were hauled out of the park during a police raid Tuesday.
A handful of protesters also gathered at a nearby McDonald's, resting their heads on a table.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.