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Occupy Wall Street protesters relax in a small encampment across the street from the New York Stock Exchange.
Occupy demonstrators, armed with sleeping bags and blankets, have begun spending nights on the sidewalks of Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange and in front of banks.
Karanja Gacuca, a spokesman for the occupiers, said Thursday there is no end date to the so-called sleep-outs. "We really are literally occupying Wall Street for the first time," he said.
Since Occupy protesters were evicted from their original encampment at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan last November, their rallies and marches have been less visible. They have promised to draw renewed attention this spring through a series of actions.
The sleep-outs are "not necessarily the only tactic or the tactic we will be employing next week or the week after," Gacuca said. "It's one tactic among many." He said the point is to draw attention to the movement's "perennial issue of income inequality."
Similar sleep-outs also took place outside bank branches in Union Square in the past few weeks, he said.
Attorney Gideon Orion Oliver, the president of the New York City chapter of the New York Lawyer's Guild, said protesters were protected from arrest by a 2000 court decision that allows sleeping on sidewalks to express political views.
He says the sleep-outs could be limited if authorities determine the conduct is incompatible with the public space. But he said that has not happened yet. "So far, so good," he said.
The Occupy movement took over Zuccotti Park beginning Sept. 17, 2011, inspiring similar encampments throughout the U.S. and world.
Many of the camps were forcibly removed by authorities, including in New York City on Nov. 15, 2011.