Arrests made in 'Occupy Sacramento' protest

The Sacramento BeeOctober 7, 2011 

Sacramento Police began arresting a group of about 19 Occupy Sacramento protesters about 12:40 a.m. today. The protesters were either lying or sitting at the entrance to Cesar Chavez Park at Ninth and K streets.

After a series of warnings, police arrested the protesters one by one and were bringing them into nearby paddy wagons.

The grass-roots Occupy movement that began three weeks ago in New York's Financial District spread to the capital city on Thursday, with a noisy downtown protest that drew more than 500 people who raged against large corporations and decried Wall Street power.

Gathering in the morning drizzle, they chanted about democracy, carried signs that read "Save the Middle Class" and vowed to risk arrest by "occupying" Cesar Chavez Plaza in violation of Sacramento's ordinance against camping in undesignated areas.

"This is what democracy looks like!" they shouted in unison as they snaked through the streets of downtown Sacramento, trailed by a small army of police officers.

But beyond the general message, what do the Occupy participants want, and how do they intend to accomplish their goals?

Members of an eclectic group of Sacramento protesters wearing everything from Abercrombie sweat shirts to Harley-Davidson jackets to Teamsters blazers offered few specifics.

Jobs, some said. More environmental protections, said others. Better housing for the homeless. More equitable distribution of wealth. Less corporate control.

A crowd that swelled throughout the blustery morning marched from Cesar Chavez Plaza across from City Hall to the state Capitol and back, past scores of police officers on horseback, bicycle, motorcycle and foot. By early afternoon, a few participants had started pitching tents in anticipation of spending the night – or maybe several nights – in the park as a demonstration of civil disobedience.

Similar protests around the country have led to occupations of intersections and bridges and in some cases mass arrests. Though crowds are often modest, the Occupy movement has drawn attention for its sheer persistence and the simmering, if unfocused, anger it seems to encompass.

As the movement spreads – similar rallies played out Thursday in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia and Anchorage – political observers are trying to sort through its message. Some compare the group's loose structure and broad message to the early tea party movement.

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