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Wall Street protests to target NYC millionaires
NEW YORK — The national Occupy Wall Street movement has been heating up again — resulting in about 50 arrests in Boston early Tuesday and plans for a Manhattan "Millionaires March" to the homes of some of New York City's wealthiest residents.
The protesters from the Occupy Boston movement were arrested after they ignored warnings to move from a downtown greenway near where they have been camped out for more than a week, police said.
Police spokesman Jamie Kenneally said the arrests began about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday and were mostly for trespassing. A conservancy group recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs along the greenway and officials said they were concerned about damage.
Hundreds of college students marched through downtown Boston on Monday and gathered on Boston Common, holding signs that read "Fund education, not corporations." The protesters are angry with an education system they say mimics "irresponsible, unaccountable, and unethical financial practices" of Wall Street.
During the York City march on Tuesday afternoon, protesters will bear oversize checks, intended to symbolize how much less the wealthy will pay when New York's 2 percent "millionaires' tax" expires in December.
The marchers plan to visit the homes of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and oil tycoon David Koch, among others. They don't have a permit, but will walk in a narrow column so they don't block sidewalks, according to Doug Forand, a protest leader.
Forand, citing budget cuts affecting schools and senior citizens, said the state's plan to end the "millionaires' tax" is "unconscionable" and urged lawmakers to extend it.
Asked if he thought any of the millionaires would be home, Forand replied, "They don't share their schedules with me, but probably not."
On Tuesday, several hundred protesters marched around the Financial District in Lower Manhattan.
The police presence is constant, and comes with a price tag. The New York Police Department already has spent $1.9 million, mostly in overtime pay, to patrol the area near Zuccotti Park, where hundreds of protesters have camped out for several weeks. Though cold weather is on the way, they're prepared to stay put for the long haul.
The expense comes at a time when Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered citywide budget cuts.
"The bottom line is that people want to express themselves, and as long as they obey the laws, we allow them to," Bloomberg told reporters Monday when asked about the protesters' staying power. "If they break the laws, then we're going to do what we're supposed to do — enforce the laws."
Last week, Bloomberg ordered all agencies to prepare to cut expenses by a total of $2 billion during the next 18 months. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the budget cuts may cause the cancellation of a new class of police officers entering the academy in January.
Police officials would not comment Monday on whether the Occupy Wall Street protest would have any bearing on how the budget cuts would play out. A spokesman for Bloomberg declined to comment on any financial issues.
"We always prefer to not spend overtime, but again, this is a big, complex city, lots of things going on," Kelly said last week, describing the protesters' effect on the NYPD. "And we have to spend overtime for unplanned operations."
The protesters say they're fighting for the "99 percent," or the vast majority of Americans who do not fall into the wealthiest 1 percent of the population; their causes range from bringing down Wall Street to fighting global warming. The movement gained traction through social media, and protests have taken place in several other cities nationwide.
• Associated Press writers Laura Crimaldi in Boston, and Kiley Armstrong, Deepti Hajela, Colleen Long in New York, contributed to this report.
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