NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg accused anti-Wall Street protesters on Friday of trying to destroy jobs in the city, even as he said he was sympathetic to some of their complaints.
Protesters complaining about what they view as corporate greed have been camped out in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan since last month, staging rallies and marches that have mostly proceeded peacefully but sometimes resulted in confrontations with police.
“What they’re trying to do is take the jobs away from people working in this city,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show, adding that the protests “aren’t productive” and weren’t good for tourism.
“If the jobs they are trying to get rid of in this city — the people that work in finance, which is a big part of our economy — go away, we’re not going to have any money to pay our municipal employees or clean our parks or anything else.”
The protests have since expanded to other U.S. cities from Tampa to Seattle, picking up support from unions eliciting the sympathy of some senior political and financial officials.
On Wednesday, about 5,000 people marched on New York’s financial district, the biggest rally so far, swelled by nurses, transit workers and other union members. Dozens of people were arrested and police used pepper spray on some protesters.
Wall Street is the pillar of the New York state economy, making up 13 percent of tax contributions.
“The protests that are trying to destroy the jobs of working people in this city aren’t productive,” Bloomberg said. “At the same time I’m sympathetic to some of their complaints.” “There are some people with legitimate complaints.”
The protesters are angry about the 2008 Wall Street bailout that critics say let banks enjoy huge profits while average Americans suffered high unemployment and job insecurity.
In addition to the bailout, protesters have raged against corporate greed and influence over American life, the gap between rich and poor, and what they see as hapless, corrupt politicians.
Bloomberg’s comments came a day after President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged the frustration and anger of the protesters.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also said he understood the anger being felt by the protesters but had to balance that with the economic importance of Wall Street to the state.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Greg McCune