Occupy Wall Street Protesters March on Martin Luther King Day

About 100 people marched from the African Burial Ground to the Federal Reserve building

Monday, Jan 16, 2012  |  Updated 2:40 PM EDT
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Occupy Wall Street Protesters March on MLK Day

AFP/Getty Images

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators arrive at Riverside Church for a service to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 15. More marches were happening on Monday.

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About 100 Occupy Wall Street protesters marched from New York's African Burial Ground to the Federal Reserve for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, saying the civil rights leader's work echoes in their own fight for more economic opportunity.

"He set the benchmark," protester Ted Actie said. "He set the blueprint as far as what Occupy Wall Street is talking about."

The protesters prayed and sang "We Shall Overcome" at the burial ground, and a group of children played violins. The site is a national monument and marks the cemetery where free and enslaved Africans were buried during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The protesters then marched a few blocks south to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where they huddled in 30-degree weather to listen to speakers who criticized corporate greed. The demonstrators carried signs reading "We oppose economic inequality" and "Democracy for sale no more." They handed out pamphlets with excerpts of King's speeches.

Dozens of police accompanied marchers on foot and scooters. The demonstration was peaceful, and protesters had permits for the event.

Michael Saunders, 46, of Brooklyn, said he believed King would have participated in the Occupy movement if he were alive today.

"It just allows people to stand up for whatever their dream is: home ownership, a college education, a better way of life for them and their children," Saunders said.

Trevor Wiessmann brought his 2 1/2-year-old son, Leo, to the march. He said he wanted to teach his son to be politically active.

"I thought it was kind of important to do something civic-minded for Martin Luther King Day," he said.

On Sunday, Occupy demonstrators took part in a candlelight vigil at Riverside Church in Manhattan in King's honor. Patti Smith read a poem and rapper-turned-CEO Russell Simons denounced the influence of large corporations and lobbyists.

Occupy protesters also planned King Day rallies in Washington, Atlanta, Chicago and other cities.

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