Worldwide protesters sustain for 7 weeks now

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NEW YORK

More than 50 Occupy Wall Street protesters are headed toward a trial on disorderly conduct charges after they refused prosecutors’ offers to dismiss the charges if they stay out of trouble for six months.

They were among 79 demonstrators due in Manhattan criminal court Thursday on charges stemming from a Sept. 24 march to Union Square.

Prosecutors say the demonstrators blocked traffic and prevented pedestrians from getting by. But many of the protesters say the disorderly conduct charges weren’t justified. They say they stayed on the sidewalk, took care to leave a path for others to get through and followed police instructions.

Those who turned down the offer were released without bail until a Jan. 9 court date. A lawyer for many of them says the cases should be dismissed because of “the ambiguity of the police orders that everybody received.”

MANHATTAN

About 100 military veterans marched in uniform Wednesday from the Vietnam Veterans Plaza near Wall Street through Manhattan.

Marine Sgt. Shamar Thomas, who went toe to toe recently with officers policing activists in Times Square, said soldiers who risked their lives have the right to protest an economy that gives them a slimmer chance of finding jobs than most Americans.

WASHINGTON

Several hundred Occupy Seattle demonstrators protested in the rain Wednesday night outside a hotel where JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was invited to speak.

Police used pepper spray to clear a side entrance so Sheraton Seattle Hotel patrons could enter or leave, The Seattle Times reported.

Six protesters were arrested Wednesday afternoon for criminal trespass and obstructing at a Chase Bank branch in a Seattle neighborhood.

Police also used pepper spray on that earlier crowd when at least 10 officers were physically assaulted while putting the arrested protesters in a paddy wagon, police spokesman Jeff Kappel said.

ENGLAND

A lawyer for protesters camped outside London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral said Wednesday that authorities have offered to let the tent city stay until next year, as the leader of the world’s Anglicans backed a so-called Robin Hood tax on financial transactions as one way to alleviate the global economic crisis.

The loosely organized demonstration against capitalist excess has wrong-footed both city and church officials since it began last month, defying pleas to leave and the threat of legal action.

Authorities have suspended legal bids to remove the tents. On Wednesday John Cooper, a lawyer for the protesters, said that local government had offered the protesters a deal “to stay on site until the new year,” then leave on an agreed date.

IOWA

Iowa City approved a request from anti-Wall Street protesters for larger tents. The protesters said they received a donated 10-person tent designed to withstand arctic weather. The City Council decided to allow two such tents, subject to approval by the fire department.

MARYLAND

City officials say they’re cutting power to outlets in the downtown Baltimore park where Wall Street protesters have been living for the last month.

Mayoral spokesman Ian Brennan said Wednesday the city is taking this step to alleviate a public safety hazard at McKeldin Square near the Inner Harbor. He said a city official visited earlier this week and found fire and electricity hazards.

MASSACHUSETTS

Members of the Occupy Boston movement, students from area colleges and union workers marched through downtown Boston to protest the nation’s burgeoning student debt crisis.

The protest started at Occupy Boston’s Dewey Square tent city Wednesday and stopped outside Bank of America offices and the downtown Harvard Club before moving to the Statehouse.

Protesters said higher education has gotten too costly, in part because of onerous, high-interest loans. They say total student debt in the U.S. increases by $1 million every six minutes and will reach $1 trillion this year, potentially undermining the economy.

Some called for complete forgiveness of student debt; others said government should more heavily subsidize state colleges and universities.