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Occupy Wall Street hits 1-month mark, raises $300,000

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

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Occupy Pittsburgh demonstrators on Saturday (AP)

The Occupy Wall Street movement passes the one-month mark today, and has also reached another milestone--the once fledgling movement has raised $300,000 in donations, according to the Associated Press.

Saturday was perhaps the biggest day yet for the protests over income inequality and corporate influence on politics. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world rallied on Saturday, from Pittsburgh to Rome. In New York City alone, more than 70 protesters were arrested when a faction set out from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan toward Times Square. Meanwhile, nearly 200 protesters were arrested in Chicago after refusing to leave a tent city in Congress Plaza.

The supporters of the movement are sending about 300 boxes of day of donated food, clothes and other goods to Zuccotti Park, the AP reports. (Monetary donations are pouring in on the Occupy website, as well as at demonstrations.) The protesters have even received goggles to protect them from pepper-spraying policemen.

Despite questions over whether the protesters have concrete demands or proposed solutions to their grievances, the movement appears to be growing more and more influential. President Obama mentioned the protests Sunday during his speech at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial dedication.

Occupy Wall Street traces its beginnings to February, when the Canadian magazine Adbusters called for a "popular uprising" in the West modeled on the pro-democracy demonstrations in the Middle East. (Slate has a great illustrated timeline of Occupy Wall Street's rise.) The first rally didn't happen until Sept 17, when a ragtag group of about 1,000 people gathered next to the statue of a bull near Wall Street. Some of them began camping out at Zuccotti Park, which quickly became the movement's epicenter.

The protesters began to attract widespread attention when a video edited by the hacktivist group Anonymous showed female protesters being pepper-sprayed on Sept. 24 by a police officer who appears to walk away after the incident. Anonymous says the pepper spray was unprovoked, but the NYPD defended the policeman's actions.

Protesters again called foul on the police on Oct. 1. The protesters said they were lured onto Brooklyn Bridge and then arrested. More than 700 protesters were arrested after police said they were not allowed to use the main roadway and block traffic. Protesters contended that police encouraged them to use the roadway.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg--who is unsympathetic to the protesters' cause--threatened to clear out Zuccotti Park on Oct. 12 so that it could be cleaned. The group that manages the park backed down from that threat on Oct. 14, after protesters staged a clean-up of their own.

Also on Oct. 14, a legal observer from the left-leaning National Lawyers Guild, Ari Douglas, was struck by a police scooter. In the video below, you can see him screaming in pain. Douglas was arrested for disorderly conduct. New York Daily News photographer Dan Marino, who witnessed the accident, says that Douglas was struck by the scooter but then stuck his leg under the wheel to make it appear as if he were trapped under it, but other witnesses said Douglas' foot was genuinely trapped under the scooter.

On Saturday, 22 protesters were arrested when they visited a Citibank in Lower Manhattan to close their accounts. Citibank says the protesters were being disruptive, so they called the police. Policemen locked the demonstrators inside the branch and then arrested them.  In the video below, a young woman who says she is a Citibank customer is grabbed by a plainsclothes cop and pushed back into the bank and arrested.

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