NEW YORK, Sept 17(Reuters) - A few hundred Occupy Wall Street activists gathered in New York’s financial district on Monday but police kept them well back from the New York Stock Exchange, which they had threatened to surround as part of a day of protests marking the movement’s one-year anniversary.
The New York Police Department arrested fewer than a dozen activists, led by retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard, who refused to move from a checkpoint along the broad perimeter police had set up to block access to the NYSE by anyone other than exchange workers who showed identification.
Occupy activists had pledged to disrupt the morning commute in lower Manhattan as part of a day of actions in New York and other cities aimed at rejuvenating a movement that has failed to sustain momentum after sparking a national conversation about economic inequality last fall.
The group, which popularized the phrase “We are the 99 percent,” gathered early Monday near Zuccotti Park, where a spontaneous encampment became their unofficial headquarters last year, but were again barred access by police.
Several protesters held signs, one saying “END the FED,” another reading: “We Are Students, Not Customers.”
“What happened here a year ago was a process that cannot be stopped,” Pulitzer-prize winning author Chris Hedges said. “What happened here a year ago will ultimately spell the doom of the corporate state.”
The grassroots movement caught the world by surprise last fall with a spontaneous encampment in lower Manhattan that soon spread to cities across North America and Europe.
Occupy Wall Street briefly revived a spirit of U.S. social activism, and drew attention to economic injustice.
The group sponsored a series of activities over the weekend, attended by crowds that never exceeded the hundreds. New York police arrested about three dozen people at those events.