HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — About a dozen people were taken into police custody Thursday on a downtown Hartford highway ramp, part of a demonstration marking the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s start.
More than 100 people chanted and carried signs during the event, in which they marched past some large Hartford-area employers and converged on an area near a busy Interstate 84 on-ramp during Thursday’s rush hour.
Their plans to block the ramp were stymied, though, because Hartford police already had closed the road and blocked the ramp themselves with cruisers and other vehicles for safety purposes.
Nonetheless, about 12 of the protesters broke free of the ranks and crossed the police line, sitting on the pavement for about 20 minutes until officers guided them to police vehicles. They were taken into custody without incident, and information was not immediately available Thursday night on their identities and whether they were booked on charges.
One of the participants taken into custody, 71-year-old Vittorio Lancia of Portland, said earlier in the march that he thinks the Occupy movement nationwide will keep gaining steam and will eventually make the 1960s protests “look like a dress rehearsal.”
“This is the end of apathy in America,” said Lancia, who said he has participated at the Occupy Hartford site that activists set up in a triangle of city-owned land they dubbed Turning Point Park.
JoAnne Bauer, a Hartford resident who works in special education, said she felt compelled to participate because she is enraged and ashamed by the gulf between wealthy and poor people, and the racial and societal rifts that have developed over the years in America’s cities.
“The issues of social justice and economic justice in the U.S. have, over my lifetime, seemed to be getting worse,” said Bauer, who said she was in her 50s. “Finally, the country is waking up to the fact that we’re being ripped off every single day by the 1 percent.”
Bauer’s reference to the “1 percent” reflects a rallying cry of Occupy participants nationwide, who have described themselves as “the 99 percent” who believe the minority have unfairly controlled America’s economics and, by extension, the majority’s well-being.
The Hartford participants Thursday included people who’ve been involved in the Occupy Hartford encampment, labor leaders and union members, community activists and others.
The Hartford event was calm compared with Occupy anniversary events in some other cities, including New York City, where at least 177 people were arrested. Some were bloodied during the arrests. Arrests were also reported in Los Angeles and some other cities.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.