Occupy Wall Street activists marked the fourth anniversary of their encampment in Zuccotti Park in New York City, which set off a global wave of protest against economic inequality.
Preemptive barricades were reportedly set up on the streets surrounding Zuccotti Park on Thursday.
“Occupy really does have some limitations, but the spirit is really with the people,” said Marni Halasa, a protester in Zuccotti Park on Thursday.
“It’s our fourth birthday,” said Paul Manheim, an activist who distributed Occupy fliers in downtown Manhattan.
“Our audience is still the same,” he said. “We’re trying to reach the anarchists, the socialists, the Republicans, the Tea Partiers and the Democrats — everybody but the 1 percent.”
Art Brown, a former analyst for the JP Morgan Chase who left the bank two years ago, said the movement’s message still resonates, but it will not “destroy” Wall Street.
“But I don’t think we’re going to destroy Wall Street,” he told activists in Zuccotti Park on Thursday morning. “You are opposing forces that have a tremendous amount of power.”
The park was the site of an encampment late in 2011 by a group of about 200 protesters whose anti-Wall Street message soon reverberated across the United States and several other countries.
The “occupiers” rallied a broad coalition of protesters against the wealthiest “one percent,” behind the banner of “We are the 99 percent.”
For two months, protesters occupied the Liberty Square in New York City in the face of excessive use of force by police and thousands of arrests.
On November 15, riot police descended on Zuccotti Park, rounding up occupiers and declaring the downtown Financial District a “frozen zone.”
Police launched similar crackdowns across the country with operational support from the Department of Homeland Security.
In New York City alone, police made 2,644 occupy-related arrests in 2011. The city has paid out $1.5 million to settle 80 lawsuits, with dozens more still pending.