LOWER MANHATTAN — Thousands of protesters led by the Occupy Wall Street group rallied downtown Friday to decry the use of pepper spray by a high-ranking officer during a march in last week.
The rally began in Zuccotti Park at 5:30 p.m. after hundreds of people, hoping to see a Radiohead concert that never happened, joined the protesters who were already there. Members of Transport Workers Union Local 100 and some members of other unions, such as the United Auto Workers, joined them.
"Last [weekend] we experienced police brutality, but actually to a very limited degree," said one speaker who is part of an anti-police brutality organization. "Across the nation and all over the world hundreds of people are killed by the police and the police are never held accountable."
Last Saturday, the situation became heated as protesters, opposing Wall Street greed, marched from their encampment at Zuccotti Park, near the World Trade Center, to Union Square.
Some 80 protesters were arrested and hit with various charges that day and videos began to surface allegedly showing a high-ranking police official, identified by sources as Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, pepper spraying a group of women.
The NYPD said that it is investigating the incident, which has also been referred to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
A second video surfaced on Wednesday purportedly showing another pepper spray incident.
On Friday evening, marchers made their way to the plaza outside the Municipal Building and Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office — yards from police headquarters.
Group members sat down and shouted what speakers said so even those in the back could hear.
A number of issues were touched upon during the protest, but the main theme continued to be against corporate greed and a more equitable distribution of resources.
Some protesters said they purposefully are not speaking about a specific set of demands or issues as they want Zuccotti Park, where they have been based since Sept. 17, to remain a place where democratic conversation can take place.
But at least one protester during the march said he would like to see a bit more focus.
"If the movement can come out and make a specific demand like this [demanding an end to police brutality] it will make a difference," said Will Hurd, 34, who traveled from Vermont for the protest and has been sleeping in Zuccotti Park for the past three days.