World Bulletin/News Desk
A few hundred Occupy Wall Street activists gathered in New York's financial district on Monday but police kept them well back from the New York Stock Exchange, which they had threatened to surround as part of a day of protests marking the movement's one-year anniversary.
The New York Police Department arrested fewer than a dozen activists, led by retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard, who refused to move from a checkpoint along the broad perimeter police had set up to block access to the NYSE by anyone other than exchange workers who showed identification.
Occupy activists had pledged to disrupt the morning commute in lower Manhattan as part of a day of actions in New York and other cities aimed at rejuvenating a movement that has failed to sustain momentum after sparking a national conversation about economic inequality last fall.
The group, which popularized the phrase "We are the 99 percent," gathered early Monday near Zuccotti Park, where a spontaneous encampment became their unofficial headquarters last year, but were again barred access by police.
Several protesters held signs, one saying "END the FED," another reading: "We Are Students, Not Customers."
"What happened here a year ago was a process that cannot be stopped," Pulitzer-prize winning author Chris Hedges said. "What happened here a year ago will ultimately spell the doom of the corporate state."
The grassroots movement caught the world by surprise last fall with a spontaneous encampment in lower Manhattan that soon spread to cities across North America and Europe.
Occupy Wall Street briefly revived a spirit of U.S. social activism, and drew attention to economic injustice.
The group sponsored a series of activities over the weekend, attended by crowds that never exceeded the hundreds. New York police arrested about three dozen people at those events.
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For his part, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told RTL radio that "the number of those who have been seriously injured may perhaps be even higher at around 17."
New York Police Department officials said the force would hold a press conference but declined to provide scheduling details.
Death toll feared to rise due to severe conditions of the many injured
The pickup truck, which had an improvised white wooden trailer constructed over the back, was transporting them in "overcrowded and unsanitary conditions," said a state police report seen by AFP.
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The van attack that mowed down pedestrians on Barcelona's most famous street on Thursday killing at least 13 people was the latest fatal assault on a European city.
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A Red Cross official told AFP meanwhile that smaller mudslides had occurred since Monday in eastern Freetown and in Sierra Leone's second city of Bo, with the rainy season far from over.
Part of a mountain engulfed "a fisherman's camp after heavy rains caused a landslide" the deputy governor of Ituri province, Pacifique Keta, told AFP.