700 arrested on Brooklyn Bridge in NYC

Occupy Wall St. protesters say they were duped by police
Guy Godfree/Maclean's

About 700 of the demonstrators taking part in the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City were arrested late Saturday during a march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

In a statement, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne said protesters received multiple warnings by police to stay on the pedestrian walkway, and were told that if they took the roadway they would be arrested. “Some complied and took the walkway without being arrested,” Browne said. “Others proceeded on the Brooklyn-bound vehicular roadway and were.”

Protesters dispute Browne’s account of the events. Many of those present at the march say they were duped by the NYPD. “The NYPD started leading protesters onto the roadway,” says Michael Pellagatti, 24, who was arrested and held in a public transit bus for four hours before spending the night in a jail cell in Brooklyn. “My ticket says, ‘blocking vehicular traffic’ but I don’t understand that. The NYPD was already blocking off traffic to begin with,” Pellagatti told Maclean’s, showing off his ticket and plasti-cuffs. “We had the general sense that they were blocking the street to allow us to cross to Brooklyn.”

The Occupy Wall Street protest in downtown Manhattan started two weeks ago after activists responded to a call by Adbusters magazine. The Vancouver-based publication encouraged readers to start a movement against the financial system they say brought down the U.S. economy in 2008. As of Sunday morning, some 200 protesters had spent the night in a makeshift encampment in Zuccotti Park—a stone’s throw from Wall Street—which has come to serve as the nerve centre for the budding movement.