NEW YORK (Reuters) - About 10 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were arrested in New York City on Wednesday during protests that failed to pull in big crowds or draw much attention on what organizers had hoped would be a nationwide day of revival for the movement.
As rain clouds gathered overhead, several dozen police officers on motorcycles escorted a group of about 50 protestors that marched from a park outside the New York Public Library to the world headquarters of Pfizer Inc and back. They denounced Pfizer as a corporation that lobbies for legislation to create tax breaks and other benefits for large businesses.
“Shame on Pfizer! You’re a bunch of liars!” chanted the protestors as they milled around barricades in front of Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker.
Afterward, Pfizer acknowledged involvement with legislative organizations but said in a statement that its aim was strictly to “advance the health of all Americans.”
Among those arrested was a bicyclist in the group headed back to Bryant Park outside the library. Police had no immediate information about the arrest.
Another eight people with sleeping bags were arrested overnight in Zuccotti Park, birthplace of the movement and strictly off-limits for camping since police evicted protestors from their tent city there in November, a police spokesman said. Seven of them were charged with disorderly conduct, the eighth with trying to interfere with the arrests.
A ninth person was arrested nearby in the early morning hours for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, police said.
Coast to coast demonstrations slated for Wednesday were aimed at revving up the movement known as “Occupy,” which has been relatively quiet in the months since police cleared encampments in New York, Oakland and other major cities.
A rallying cry of the movement has been that 1 percent of the population has too much of the nation’s wealth and the remaining 99 percent is disadvantaged.
Pfizer was awarded a mock prize for “Excellence in Profiteering” by the group before it marched back in the rain to Bryant Park, carrying signs reading “People over profit” and “Healthcare is a human right” as well as “I‘m a doctor for the 99 percent.”
Hoisting a sign reading “I can’t afford to get sick” was Jennifer Roberts, 44, a painter who lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.
“I’ve lived the bulk of my adult working life without insurance,” said Roberts, who is single and therefore not covered by a spouse’s health insurance either. “I feel it’s very important to pursue a single payer system for this country.”
Protestor Paul Layton, 59, a lawyer who lives in New York City, wore a yellow button reading “Healthcare for the 99 percent.”
“I have to make a choice between keeping my office open and keeping my health insurance,” said Layton who is also single and uninsured.
Additional reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Paul Thomasch