Paul Sakuma, file, Associated Press
During the first two months of the nationwide Occupy protests, the movement that is demanding more out of the wealthiest Americans cost local taxpayers at least $13 million in police overtime and other municipal services, according to a survey by The Associated Press.
The heaviest financial burden has fallen upon law enforcement agencies tasked with monitoring marches and evicting protesters from outdoor camps. And the steepest costs by far piled up in New York City and Oakland, Calif., where police clashed with protesters on several occasions.
The AP gathered figures from government agencies in 18 cities with active protests and focused on costs through Nov. 15, the day protesters were evicted from New York City's Zuccotti Park, where the protests began Sept. 17 before spreading nationwide. The survey did not attempt to tally the price of all protests but provides a glimpse of costs to cities large and small.
Broken down city by city, the numbers are more or less in line with the cost of policing major public events and emergencies. In Los Angeles, for example, the Michael Jackson memorial concert cost the city $1.4 million. And Atlanta spent several million dollars after a major snow and ice storm this year.
Protesters want shoppers to occupy something besides door-buster sales and crowded mall parking lots on Black Friday.
Some don't want people to shop at all. Others just want to divert shoppers from big chains and giant shopping malls to local mom-and-pops. And while the actions don't appear coordinated, they have similar themes: supporting small businesses while criticizing the day's dedication to conspicuous consumption and the shopping frenzy that fuels big corporations.
Nearly each one promises some kind of surprise action on the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.
Some business experts note that trying to shop exclusively local neglects economies of scale, job specialization and other benefits that big, multi-state corporations can bring. They also say small businesses aren't necessarily better employers in terms of wages, benefits, opportunities for advancement and other measures.
Occupy Wall Street has a benefit album planned with Jackson Browne, Third Eye Blind, Crosby & Nash, Devo, Lucinda Williams and even some of those drummers who kept an incessant beat at Manhattan's Zuccotti Park.
Participants in the protest movement said Wednesday that "Occupy This Album," which will be available sometime this winter, will also feature DJ Logic, Ladytron, Warren Haynes, Toots and the Maytals, Mike Limbaud, Aeroplane Pageant, Yo La Tengo and others.
Activist filmmaker Michael Moore is also planning to sing.
Jason Samel, a musician who is putting together the disc, said the goal is to raise $1 million to $2 million to help fuel the movement.
The New York Police Department's commissioner on Wednesday sent an internal message to officers ordering them not to unreasonably interfere with media access during news coverage and warning those who do will be subject to disciplinary action, after several journalists were arrested covering Occupy Wall Street demonstrations last week.
A reporter and a photographer with The Associated Press were among those arrested while on private property covering a rally by protesters Nov. 15 in Manhattan. Police made the arrests after the demonstrators clipped a chain-link fence and entered a vacant lot owned by a nearby church.
The police department message notes that officers should not restrict media access on private property "to the extent it is feasible to do so."
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