A heavy police presence at first kept protesters away from the New York Stock Exchange, which opened trading on Thursday morning right at the usual 9:30 bell. Then, police officers started pushing and shoving protesters on sidewalks away from the entrance to Wall Street. By 10 a.m., the protest was pretty much dispersed on what the Occupy movement is calling “a day of action” commemorating its two-month anniversary.
The effort to prevent Wall Street trading comes a day after police evicted OWS protesters who had been camping out in nearby Zuccotti Park. A state court on Wednesday ruled that the city could shut down the tarp-and-tent city. On Thursday morning, police barricades kept protesters out of the park, where only a handful of people hoisted cardboard signs and waved protest flags on the sidewalk perimeter.
Because protesters were not able to use Zuccotti Park, much of the protest occurred as a march. Protester Anastasia Shelby, a graduate student living in New York, carried a sign proclaiming "Slumlord Bloomberg Billionaire OWS Not Going Anywhere."
“My goal is to represent women,” she said as she walked down Broadway.
Another protester, Laura Smith of Boston, says she got up at 3 a.m. to come to New York with some friends. Because the Occupy movement started in New York, she says, she felt it was important to support those protesting in the Big Apple.
“I’m not unemployed, I work part-time,” says Ms. Smith, who helps cheerleading teams improve their routines. “We are trying to create change, to end the corruption that takes place every day.”
Though the protest did not manage to shut down the stock exchange, it did disrupt the normal flow of business. As Smith spoke, police were arresting some protesters and pushing others back from the entrance to Wall Street. Only those who could show they live or work on Wall Street were cleared to go through.
One of those shoved down the street was John Smithfield, a resident of Ashville, N.C. Though police had threatened him with arrest, he continued to hold up various cardboard signs.
“I think there’s many goals today,” he says. “I think the goal today was to try to block Wall Street, and I heard they held up trading so I think it shows when we assemble in mass we can really be effective,”
Well, actually, the NYSE opened right on time.
“It’s business as usual,” says Rich Adamonis, a spokesman for NYSE Euronext.