Occupy Wall Street: At ‘Day of Action’ the Movement Vows to Fight On

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In the days leading up to the Nov. 17 Global Day of Action, Occupy Wall Street protesters planned several events, including a 7 a.m. march to shut down Wall Street.

They didn’t successfully stop trading—the markets opened on time at 9:30 sharp—but their post-eviction protest against corporate America was successful in other ways.

Yesterday, on the movement’s two-month anniversary, hundreds of protesters gathered in Zuccotti Park and marched two blocks south to Wall Street. Anticipating their arrival, the NYPD had already barricaded the financial district, stopping the marchers a block from Wall Street itself.

(PHOTOSMarchers Arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge)

Wall Street is a narrow ribbon of pavement set deep within a canyon between buildings, spanning a mere eight uneven blocks between Trinity Church and the East River. As a symbol, however, the street carries enormous weight. Since the movement began, one of the main complaints is that large banks received public bail outs, prompting chants of “Banks got bailed out; We got sold out!” as the crowd past the towers.

This was the first major rally since Tuesday’s eviction. Daniel Levine, who has lived at Zuccotti Park since the first week ,was in Albany when the park was raided, but rushed back for the march. “We’re going to keep marching and keep working for our cause,” Levine says. Today is absolutely amazing.”

Around 11 a.m., most protesters returned to Zuccotti Park and held a general assembly to plan marches to subway stations in all five boroughs. Suddenly, a single protester grabbed a metal barrier from the park’s perimeter and dragged it to the park’s center. A crowd formed around him, chanting, “Whose park? Our Park!” until someone lifted one of the metal saw horses and exuberantly tossed it into the crowd. Police then pushed into the park’s center to contain the chaos and several scuffles broke out. Order was quickly restored.

(MOREPolice Use Pepper Spray on Wall Street Protesters)

During the afternoon, hundreds of students assembled in Union Square protesting tuition hikes and high levels of student debt. Just before 5 p.m., they emerged from the subway at the intersection of Canal and Center Street and began to march past the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. Shoppers stepped out of bodegas to cheer them on. After a few blocks, Centre Street opens into Foley Square, a large, oval-shaped plaza where 12,000 protesters gathered on Oct. 15, the last time large unions marched in solidarity with the Occupy movement. The crowd on Thursday was not quite that large; Foley Square itself was packed, but the famous steps of the Manhattan Supreme Court were largely empty.

After about 90 minutes of speeches and music, the throng began to wind its way south toward City Hall. At City Hall plaza, 13 mounted policemen waited at the ready, but there was no need for action. The marchers made their way to the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge, the sight of more than 700 arrests the last time they marched here on Oct. 1. That day, protesters blocked the roadway, leading to the mass arrests. Marchers claimed then that they were “kettled” by the NYPD. (“Kettling” is the controversial practice of allowing protesters into a certain area, then arresting them.) On Thursday, there would be no confusion; policeman on a bullhorn reminded marchers to stick to the center walkway.

Once on the bridge, there was almost an eerie silence. Protesters still called out chants, but without the buildings causing an echo, they drifted off over the cold water and into the night. Occupy Wall Street’s media group, which runs the movement’s official Twitter feed, tweeted to remind protesters that it was a march, not a race, and to savor the experience. The thousands-strong crowd made their way into Brooklyn without any major incidents.

(PHOTOSOccupy Wall Street Begins in Manhattan)

At 8 p.m., Occupy Wall Street held general assemblies on both sides of the East River. In the wake of the eviction from Zuccotti Park and the ruling that they could return, but could not sleep there, many thought that Occupy Wall Street was dead. But the movement stayed in the headlines, garnering much of CNN’s coverage in the middle of the day.

On the day of the eviction, Mayor Bloomberg said that the protestors “have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags,” and would now “have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments.” They’re up for the challenge: Says Occupy spokesperson Senia Barragan: “This movement is bigger than the park.”

Nate Rawlings is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @naterawlings. Continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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