Wall Street protesters look to expand N.Y. presence
Sat Oct 8, 2011 6:04pm EDT
By Ray Sanchez
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Anti-Wall Street demonstrators said on Saturday they are growing out of their lower Manhattan encampment and are exploring options to expand to other public spaces in New York City.
Protesters complaining about what they view as corporate greed have been camped out near Wall Street in Zuccotti Park for three weeks, staging rallies and marches that have mostly proceeded peacefully but have also resulted in confrontations with police.
On Saturday, several hundred protesters marched north to Washington Square Park -- the site of protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s -- to discuss expanding their encampment to other sites.
There were no arrests.
Lucas Vasquez, a student who was leading the march, said protesters were looking at expanding into Washington Square and Battery parks, but stressed: "We're not going to give up Liberty Plaza" -- the protesters' name for Zuccotti Park, where about 250 have camped out around the clock.
"It's sometimes hard to move around there. We have a lot of people," he said.
By late on Saturday, no decision had been reached.
The movement has surged in less than three weeks from a ragged group in downtown Manhattan to protesters of all ages demonstrating from Seattle to Tampa.
The protesters object to the Wall Street bailout in 2008, which they say left banks to enjoy huge profits while average Americans suffered under high unemployment and job insecurity.
On Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the protests "aren't productive" and bad for tourism, even as he said he was sympathetic to some of their complaints.
Wall Street is the pillar of the New York state economy, making up 13 percent of tax contributions.
The protests have expanded to more than two dozen cities, although outside New York the crowds have been much smaller.
"We're tired of other people controlling - or thinking they control - our lives and our livelihoods," said Kristin Thompson, a 22-year-old pre-school teacher and one of 100 protesters on Saturday in downtown Mobile, Alabama .
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, about 250 protesters, lined the streets outside a Bank of America branch, waving corporate-protest signs at passing vehicles.
Participants said they had been summoned via social network Internet sites, labor organizers, liberal website MoveOn.org and members of the local Green Party.
"We are all in this together," said Ramona Beene, 45, who owns a cake company.
She said her two college-age children are "spending thousands of dollars and won't have jobs after they graduate."
(Additional reporting by Dennis Carroll in Santa Fe and Kelli Dugan in Mobile; Writing by Edith Honan; Editing by Greg McCune)