First of 700 Wall St. protesters released

Oct. 2, 2011 at 8:17 AM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The first of 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested by police for blocking traffic on New York's Brooklyn Bridge were released overnight, supporters said.

Demonstrators said they were restrained with plastic handcuffs and loaded onto buses where they were they were held for four hours before being taken to a Manhattan jail Saturday. Groups of supporters gathered outside two precincts waiting for the protesters to be released, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The Occupy Wall Street protests have been going on for 15 days in an effort to draw attention to what the demonstrators call inequities in the U.S. economic system.

Some argued police never told the 1,500 or so protesters they weren't allowed to cross the Brooklyn Bridge roadway before corralling them with orange nets. New Yorker Etan Ben-Ami told The New York Times he thought police were encouraging people to walk in the road.

"They weren't pushed back," he said. "There wasn't a single policeman saying 'don't do this' We thought they were escorting us because they wanted us to be safe."

Police spokesman Paul J. Browne disputed that contention.

"This was not a trap," he told The Times. "They were warned not to proceed."

Saturday marked the largest mass arrest since 1,200 people were taken into custody during a protest of the 2004 Republican National Convention, the New York Post reported.

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