NYC protesters call for renewed occupations

By Karen Matthews

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Dec. 3 2011 2:11 p.m. MST

An Occupy Wall Street protestor wears a "This Space Occupied" poster as he listens to a general assembly meeting in Zuccotti Park, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, in New York. Although a massive gathering was expected Saturday to "re-occupy" the park after a forcible removal by police last month, the crowd hovered around 100 persons in the early afternoon with few police officers present in the area.

John Minchillo, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Occupy Wall Street activists said Saturday they aren't giving up their fight to use public spaces despite police raids in the past week that cleared out encampments in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

"The occupy movement is more powerful than ever, despite a violent and systematic wave of evictions enacted by mayors who fear the power of open and visible dissent," said Laura Gottesdiener, who read a "call to reoccupy" to about 100 protesters gathered in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park.

The protest against economic inequality started Sept. 17 at Zuccotti, a public plaza that is owned by developer Brookfield Properties. At its height, the encampment aspired to be a self-contained community serving meals and providing sleeping bags to those who arrived without them.

Gottesdiener said activists around the country should set up new camps on Dec. 17, the three-month birthday of the movement.

Meanwhile, the protesters, who have not been allowed to spend the night at Zuccotti since Nov. 15, pressed for access to an alternative space owned by a historic New York church.

The protesters want Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal church that dates to the colonial era, to let them use a vacant lot it owns at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street. The fenced-in property was the scene of arrests on Nov. 15.

"They say, 'Ask and you shall receive,'" protester Zak Solomon said. "We need that space."

Three protesters said they were starting a hunger strike Saturday to try to pressure Trinity to let them use the vacant lot.

Trinity officials did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Other activists are staging 24 hours of street performances on Broadway near Times Square.

Saturday's lineup was to include playwright Adam Rapp, actress Kathleen Chalfant, who was in the original Broadway cast of "Angels in America" and cast members from the touring production of "Hair."

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