Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Unions join Wall Street protesters

An Occupy Wall Street protester yells at police officers as they make arrests in New York (AP)

Unions have lent their muscle to the long-running protests against Wall Street and economic inequality, with their members joining thousands of protesters in a lower Manhattan march as smaller demonstrations flourished across the US.

Protesters in suits and T-shirts with union slogans left work early to march with activists who have been camped out in Zuccotti Park for days. Some marchers brought along their children, hoisting them on to their shoulders as they walked down Broadway.

"We're here to stop corporate greed," said Mike Pellegrino, an NYC Transit bus mechanic from Rye Brook. "They should pay their fair share of taxes. We're just working and looking for decent lives for our families."

Of the camping protesters, he said: "We feel kinship with them. We're both looking for the same things."

People gathered in front of the courthouses that encircle Foley Square, then marched to Zuccotti Park, where they refuelled with snacks and hurriedly painted new signs as the strong scent of burning sage wafted through the plaza.

Previous marches have resulted in mass arrests. Police said there were about a dozen arrests last night, mostly for disorderly conduct. But at least one arrest was for assaulting a police officer; authorities said a demonstrator knocked an officer off his scooter.

The protesters have varied causes but have spoken largely about unemployment and economic inequality and reserved most of their criticism for Wall Street. "We are the 99%," they chanted, contrasting themselves with the wealthiest 1% of Americans.

Susan Henoch, 63, of Manhattan, said she was a "child of the '60s" and came out to the park for the first time on Wednesday. She held a sign that read "Enough".

"It's time for the people to speak up," she said. "Nobody's listening to us, nobody's representing us. Politics is dead.

"This is no longer a recognisable democracy. This is a disaster," she said.

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