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Mr. Casuccio said protesters had little time to leave Zuccotti if they wanted to avoid arrest. “They gave us one quick warning and then just came in, hundreds of people,” he said.

Police did not immediately answer calls and emails Sunday seeking a response to the accusations of brutality.

As cleaning crews used hoses to erase all signs of the clash Sunday, Occupy activists offered differing perspectives on where the movement is headed.

“We’re going to keep going,” said Christopher Guerra, who has spent many nights at Zuccotti since the movement started last Sept. 17. He added, “It’s going to get interesting during the election cycle. We’re going to be more of a presence in the political world. I know we have a couple of people running for office.”

According to Mother Jones magazine, a leftist bimonthly, 10 candidates for House and Senate seats in the November elections have made Occupy part of their campaigns.

They include Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and Hakeem Jeffries, who is running for Congress in Brooklyn. But some Occupy supporters consider themselves anarchists who abjure electoral politics.

Ms. Nurse, a member of Occupy’s direct-action working group, said she expects college students will have “a huge role to play this summer organizing around student debt.” She noted that the issue resonates both with students and with their parents and has the potential to broaden the movement.

Ted Schulman, an Occupy protester who lives near Zuccotti, said his focus is the upcoming United Nation Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. He said he wants to “challenge the U.N. on what their vision of a green economy is.”

Harlem resident Kanene Holder said the movement is broader than any one issue. “This is not a beauty pageant,” she said. “We cannot homogenize this movement into one streamlined vision.”

Tourists streamed by Zuccotti on their way to the nearby World Trade Center site on Sunday, and some said they were not familiar with Occupy Wall Street. “We’re from Colorado,” a teenager in a tour group explained.

Brian Cummings of Columbus Junction, Iowa, said he did know about it.

“I understand the Occupy movement,” he said. “I understand a lot of people’s frustration. I’m not sure how effective it is … Nothing seems to be being accomplished.”