- Associated Press - Sunday, October 2, 2011

NEW YORK — Protesters who have been camping out in Manhattan’s financial district say their movement has grown and become more organized, and they have no intention of stopping as they move into their third week, following the second weekend in a row of mass arrests.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstration started out small last month, with fewer than a dozen college students spending days and nights in Zuccotti Park, a private plaza off Broadway. It has grown sizably, however, both in New York City and elsewhere as people elsewhere across the country display their solidarity in similar protests.

The event has drawn protesters of diverse ages and occupations who say they are speaking out against corporate greed, social inequality, global climate change and other concerns.

Kira Moyer-Sims, 19, of Portland, Ore., said things have changed a lot since the protest started, with the group much more organized. “We have a protocol for most things,” she said, including what to do when people are arrested in terms of getting legal help.

She said the protest would only continue.

“They thought we were going to leave and we haven’t left,” she said of city officials. “We’re going to stay as long as we can.”

New York police spokesman Paul Browne said the department wouldn’t be changing its approach to handling the protest, that it would continue regular patrols and monitoring but not assign additional officers. Police officers have been a regular sight at the plaza.

“As always, if it is a lawful demonstration, we help facilitate and if they break the law we arrest them,” Mr. Browne said.

The Fire Department said it had gone to the site several times over the past week to check for any fire safety hazards arising from people living in the plaza, but there have been no major issues.

On Sunday, a group of New York public school teachers sat in the plaza, including Denise Martinez. The 47-year-old Brooklyn resident works at a school where most students are at poverty level.

“The bottom line is the feeling that the financial industries here on Wall Street have caused the economic problems, and they’re not contributing their fair share to solving them,” she said of her reasons for camping out Sunday.

She said funding for education has shrunk to the point where her classes are as large as about 50.

“These are America’s future workers, and what’s trickling down to them are the problems — the unemployment, the crime.”

Another voice on Sunday belonged to Jackie Fellner, a 32-year-old marketing manager from Westchester County.

“We’re not here to take down Wall Street. It’s not poor against rich. It’s about big money dictating which politicians get elected and what programs get funded,” she said.

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