Organizers at the demonstration in St. Louis called out instructions to protesters encouraging them to be peaceful and find a police officer if there was any problem while dozens of police officers milled about among the crowd. Nearly a dozen of the Wall Street protesters in St. Louis were arrested for curfew violations early Thursday morning. Over the weekend, about 700 protesters in New York were arrested as they tried to march over the Brooklyn Bridge.
The core group, Occupy Wall Street (OWS), claims people will take part in demonstrations in as many as 147 US cities this month, while the website occupytogether.org lists 47 US states as being involved. Occupytogether.org, one of several sites associated with the protest, has had to be rebuilt to accommodate the traffic.
Around the world, protests in Canada, the UK, Germany and Sweden have also been planned. The speed of the leaderless movement’s growth has taken many by surprise.
President Obama, speaking at a press conference, said he had been following the recent protests on Wall Street, and noted that “I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel.”
“We had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression huge collateral damage throughout the country, all across main street. And yet, you are still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to crack down on abusive practices that got us in the situation in the first place,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “I think people are frustrated.”
Many unions have come out in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Sterling W. Roberson, vice-president for the United Federation of Teachers, said union members shared the same ideals as activists who have been camped out in sleeping bags for more than two weeks. “The middle class is taking the burden but the wealthiest of our state and country are not,” he said.
“We have to start by making Wall Street pay to undo the damage that has caused immeasurable suffering while the high rollers on Wall Street, who created this crisis, are rewarded with bailouts, bonuses, tax cuts, and regulatory rollbacks,” the executive director of National Nurses United, Roseanne DeMoro, said.