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Posted by on Nov 3, 2011 in Economy, Law, Society | 11 comments

What’s Next For The Occupy Wall Street Protests?

The Occupy Wall Street protests entered a new and potentially violent phase this week as protesters shut down operations at Oakland’s busy port in the latest demonstrations against economic inequality and police brutality. A small splinter group wielding makeshift shields broke off and roamed through downtown streets spraying graffiti, burning garbage and breaking windows. They were confronted by police who fired tear gas and bean bag rounds.

The protest by about 5,000 people fell far short of paralyzing the city but the port, the fifth busiest in the U.S., was shut down and will remain closed until officials determine that it is safe and secure.

The violence raises troubling questions: While support among Americans who share the protesters pain diminish. The Oakland protest, like most of them across the, has an amorphous leadership and the protests are ripe for further violence like the splinter group that not only battled police on Wednesday night, but jumped on and forced open the doors of TV news vans.

Meanwhile, Scott Olsen remains in an Oakland hospital in a stable condition. Olsen, a 24-year-old veteran of two Army tours in Iraq, was struck by a teargas canister fired by police on October 25.

Elsewhere, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told protesters he would take action if circumstances warranted, saying the encampments and demonstrations were “really hurting small businesses and families.”

In downtown Seattle, about 300 rain-soaked protesters blocked the street outside the Sheraton hotel where Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of the biggest US bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, was speaking at an event. Earlier in the day, five protesters were arrested for trespassing after chaining themselves to fixtures inside a Chase bank branch.

In Los Angeles, several hundred protesters marched through the downtown area in solidarity with their Oakland counterparts, while in Virginia protesters bought alarm whistles at their encampment in a public park in Charlottesville because women were concerned about their safety overnight.

Photograph by Kent Porter/The Associated Press