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Occupy Wall Street, Day Three: Inefficiency Starts to Cripple Protest

This is what democracy looks like.
This is what democracy looks like.

The Occupy Wall Street protest drew thousands of demonstrators to the Financial District this weekend, when the markets were closed and the neighborhood was largely a ghost town.

This morning, as the inexplicably-timed protest entered its third day, demonstrators finally had a chance disrupt the captains of capital as they moved their enormous piles of money around.

Police kept a wide perimeter around the New York Stock Exchange.
Police kept a wide perimeter around the New York Stock Exchange.

But the protesters' numbers were already much diminished, and when the few hundred remaining demonstrators filed through the narrow streets of the financial districts, banging drums and shouting "This is what democracy looks like," they found their passage by police barricades narrowing the sidewalks, and a strong NYPD turnout kept them from getting anywhere near the New York Stock Exchange.

Six people were arrested this morning, some for jumping the barricades, others for violating a law that prohibits more than one demonstrator at a time from wearing masks.

By 10 a.m., columns of protesters started weaving back to Zuccotti Park, the privately-owned square at Broadway and Liberty Street that demonstrators are calling by its former name, Liberty Park.

Protesters on Wall Street today.
Protesters on Wall Street today.

There, they debated their next move, in an exquisitely democratic and maddeningly inefficient people's assembly. Participants raised their hands to speak in staccato bursts, echoed back by the entire crowd to amplify their message. Some wanted to return to Wall Street, to fulfill the mission of the event's name. Others advocated for a more long-term strategy, turning Zucotti Park into a sort of Tahrir Square of economic justice.

Originally devised by Adbusters magazine in July, the notion of a Wall Street occupation has gathered steam in recent months without identifying a unified set of demands. Protesters today mentioned goals like reducing corporate influence in politics, punishing banks for the financial crisis, and reversing the widening of the country's wealth gap.

As the strategy debate dragged on, frustration and exhaustion among the protesters became apparent. "It was much more unified yesterday," said Gary Luisa, a 21-year-old Long Island man. "People woke up today tired and cold. We need to be more organized."

Even as they continue to debate strategy, the remaining protesters say they're not giving up and will remain in lower Manhattan for the foreseeable future.

Here's video of the demonstrators on Wall Street this morning:

Organizers are also maintaining a livestream of protest activities:

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