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Anti-Wall Street protest: Big clash averted for now (video)

Anti-Wall Street protest cheers delay in park cleaning. But New York City police arrest more than a dozen in an impromptu anti-Wall Street protest around the New York Stock Exchange.

By Colleen Long and Karen MatthewsAssociated Press / October 14, 2011

Demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street protests confront New York City police officers as they march on the street in the Wall Street area, Friday, Oct. 14, in New York. The cleanup of a plaza in lower Manhattan where protesters have been camped out for a month was postponed early Friday, sending cheers up from a crowd that had feared the effort was merely a pretext to evict them.

Mary Altaffer/AP



The official cleanup of a New York plaza where protesters have camped out for a month was postponed early Friday, sending up cheers from demonstrators who feared the effort was merely a pretext to evict them and said the victory emboldened their movement.

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Protesters had already been scrambling to clean up the park on their own in hopes of staving off eviction when Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway announced that the owner of the private park, Brookfield Office Properties, had put off the cleaning.

"My understanding is that Brookfield got lots of calls from many elected officials threatening them and saying ... 'We're going to make your life more difficult,'" Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.

There was still some skepticism even after the protesters, who call their demonstration Occupy Wall Street, were told they could stay on.

"I'll believe it when we're able to stay here," said Peter Hogness, 56, a union employee from Brooklyn. "One thing we have learned from this is that we need to rely on ourselves and not on promises from elected officials."

But police say they've made about 14 arrests after a few hundred protesters left Zuccotti Park and marched to the area around the New York Stock Exchange.

Most of the arrests were in the area of Broadway and Exchange Place. Police say that includes protesters who sat or stood in the street, obstructing traffic.

They say others turned over trash baskets, knocked over a police scooter and hurled bottles. Charges were pending.

Anti-Wall Street protesters declared the delayed clean-up of the park a boon to their movement, which blames Wall Street and corporate interests for the economic pain they say all but the wealthiest Americans have endured since the financial meltdown. Since starting a month ago in New York, the movement has spread to cities across the U.S. and the world.

"This development has emboldened the movement and sent a clear message that the power of the people has prevailed against Wall Street," New York organizers said in a statement.

Several protests are planned this weekend in the U.S., Canada and Europe, as well as in Asia and Africa, and the official capitulation in New York could buoy those events.

"I think it's really a prophetic moment," said Annie Gonzalez, a student at Union Theological Seminary who wore a sign identifying her as an Occupy Wall Street chaplain. She likened the protesters to "the prophets of the Old Testament, crying out that there's no justice."

Bloomberg, whose girlfriend is on Brookfield's board of directors, said his staff was under strict orders not to pressure the company one way or the other. He noted that the company can still go ahead with the cleanup at some point.

"They called to say they want to see if they can work out an agreement with the protesters," he said on his radio show. "If they want to take a couple of days ... then they can do that."