Published September 29, 2011
A standoff near Wall Street between protesters opposed to what they say is corporate greed and police may drag on into winter, with a march on police headquarters the likely next test of whether tensions escalate.
The Occupy Wall Street movement was planning Friday an unauthorized demonstration on the streets outside the New York City police center of operations.
The group is adding complaints of excessive police force against protesters and police treatment of ethnic minorities and Muslims to its grievances list, which includes bank bailouts, foreclosures and high unemployment.
Police have made about 100 arrests and used pepper spray, which they called a better alternative than night sticks to subdue those blocking traffic.
``We're here for the long haul,'' said Patrick Bruner, a protester and student at Skidmore College in upstate New York, who is among those camped out in a private park near One World Trade Center.
Experts say they don't expect the type of violence recently seen in London.
In the British protests in August, more than 2,700 people were arrested after destruction and looting spread from the capital to other cities. Authorities said some rioters were known gang members.
In New York, the protesters are largely educated, organized and their marches are planned, not spontaneous.
After hundreds of protesters were denied access to some areas outside the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 17, demonstrators set up a rag-tag camp three blocks away.
Zuccotti Park is festooned with placards and anti-Wall Street slogans. People sleep wrapped in blankets or sleeping bags, some on donated mattresses. There is a makeshift kitchen and library and celebrities from filmmaker Michael Moore to actress Susan Sarandon have stopped by to show support.
Mindful of the cold weather coming, protesters have a ''winterization committee'' to prepare for the season.
Vancouver-based activist media group Adbusters organized the protest but failed to attract the throngs some had hoped for. Instead, there are a few hundred people, mostly unemployed youth and college students.
``These are the most overeducated crowd of people that I've even seen in my life,'' said Daniel Levine, a student at Baruch College. ``People come out of college and there are no jobs.''
Friday's planned march comes less than a week after police arrested 80 people. A police commander used pepper spray on four women. A video of the incident was widely viewed on the Internet, inspiring many protesters who vow to continue their protests indefinitely.
International security expert Patricia DeGennaro, a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and professor at New York University, said she doubted the protests would turn violent.
``Americans have become too complacent with the way their society is being run,'' DeGennaro said. (Editing by Daniel Trotta, Jerry Norton and Xavier Briand)