NEW YORK — In the latest round of demonstrations calling for corporate accountability, 16 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested in front of the global headquarters of Goldman Sachs in lower Manhattan.
A New York Police Department spokesperson confirmed that nine men and seven women were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
The protest began with a mock trial of the giant investment firm at 10 a.m. in Zuccotti Park, the protesters' base. During "A People's Hearing of Goldman Sachs," a group gathered to hear testimony from people who shared stories of how they were directly affected by Goldman Sachs' influence on financial markets. Civil rights activist and Princeton professor Cornel West also spoke at the panel, as did journalists Chris Hedges and Nomi Prins.
A five-month McClatchy investigation in 2009 revealed how Goldman Sachs peddled billions of dollars in shaky securities tied to subprime mortgages on unsuspecting pension funds, insurance companies and other investors when it concluded that the housing bubble would burst.
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Shortly before noon, the protesters began to make their way to 200 West St., Goldman's headquarters.
"Banks got bailed out, we got sold out," the protesters chanted as they walked. Some drummed, other held signs. One protester held a piece of cardboard that read simply, "GREED." Another said: "Goldman Sucks."
Police with plastic handcuffs dangling from their belts walked alongside the demonstrators as they marched north on Church Street, past the National September 11 Memorial. The group arrived at the Goldman Sachs building just before 12:30 p.m.
At least 19 police offers stood on the pedestrian walkway watching as protesters blocked the front entrance of the building and delivered their "guilty" verdict. Soon, a white-shirted police officer entered the crowd with a megaphone and asked the protesters to leave. By this time, a small group had sat in a circle on the ground.
"You will be arrested, I repeat, you will be arrested," the officer told the group when they stayed sitting, arms linked.
The majority of people moved to a nearby walkway.
"We stopped listening to orders, when will you?" a man shouted in the direction of the police, who were now gathered around the remaining group, all of whom would be arrested.
Among the first was activist Bill Talen, commonly known as Reverend Billy — an activist actor who was led away in plastic cuffs. The arrests were largely a nonviolent affair, though some protesters struggled as the officers picked them up by their hands and feet.
"First Amendment rights, First Amendment rights," one woman shouted as she was handcuffed and led away to nearby police vans.
By 1 p.m., all of protesters in front of the Goldman Sachs entrance had been arrested. The same white-shirted officer then warned the remaining crowd of protesters that they were obstructing pedestrian and vehicular traffic and would be subject to arrest if they stayed.
The crowd slowly marched away, as a handful of employees in the Goldman Sachs building stood by the windows watching the protesters from several floors up. Police on foot and on motorcycles followed the group back to Zuccotti Park.
"The police as an institution are in a position where they're protecting the real criminals, the people who are responsible for the economic state of the world right now," said Zack Rosen, 22, as he was leaving Goldman Sachs headquarters. Rosen, who was previously arrested in another Occupy Wall Street protest, said he thought the demonstration "went great."
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