Social Media Continues to Fuel Wall Street Protest

Mayor frets about security cost as protest grows, becomes more organized

On day 20 of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the crowd that says it wants major social and economic change got the attention of the mayor and the police commissioner.

Mayor Bloomberg acknowledged the purpose of the movement, saying Thursday, "People are upset. They don't quite know where to go."

Officials also said the Wall Street protests have occupied the police department with considerable overtime in the past three weeks, costing the NYPD $2 million so far.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the clashes and arrests seen worldwide were provoked.

"When you have a confrontation, which is what these individuals wanted, they're not pretty," said Kelly. "Physical force is going to be used."

But the gathering in Lower Manhattan doesn't seem likely to fade away -- not when the one thing virtually all the protesters have in common is a smartphone and a knack for social media to spread the word.

"It allows people to see that other people are feeling the same dismay and provides a forum to create new democratic structures," said Ingrid Feeney, a protester.

"I use social media, Facebook, Twitter, and going through the friends I have here is basically what brought me here," said Zach Cooper.

The Occupy Wall Street protests started last month with a few dozen demonstrators who tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Since then, hundreds have set up camp nearby in Zuccotti Park and have become increasingly organized, lining up medical aid and legal help and printing their own newspaper.

In fact, so many people were e-mailing, tweeting and texting about Thursday night's gathering, it was easy to see how more people could join the crowd in the coming weeks.

"I can't imagine such a big turnout without social media," said Dara Silverman of Brooklyn. "I grew up with social media so I can't imagine it."

The protesters have varied causes but have spoken largely about unemployment and economic inequality, reserving most of their criticism for Wall Street. "We are the 99 percent," they chant, contrasting themselves with the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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