New York (CNN) — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted Wall Street protesters, entering their 22nd day Saturday, for targeting the financial sector and “trying to destroy the jobs of working people in the city.”
Speaking on WOR radio Friday, Bloomberg said the city’s labor unions — many of whom swelled demonstrator ranks earlier this week — depend on salaries that “come from the taxes paid by the people they’re trying to vilify.”
Still, the mayor described the city’s unemployment rate as “unacceptably high,” and acknowledged that “a lot of people are disaffected.”
“Some are legit, some aren’t,” Bloomberg said, describing the concerns of the demonstrators in Lower Manhattan.
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His comments coincided with the city’s announcement that 700 education workers will be laid off in an effort close a budget gap. They also follow recently released census data that shows New York’s poverty level has increased to 20.1 %, the highest in more than a decade.
Saturday, protesters encamped in a privately-owned park capped off their biggest week yet when the ambiguously defined movement against corporate greed and other social ills spread to more than a dozen cities nationwide.
Demonstrations have erupted in more than a dozen cities throughout the week, from the thousands who marched in lower Manhattan Wednesday after receiving support from local unions to the dozens of college students who staged walkouts at various campuses.
The movement started in New York and some of the protests there have been marred by scuffles with police.
Last Saturday, police made hundreds of arrests as demonstrators marched without a permit toward the Brooklyn Bridge, blocking city traffic for hours.
The previous Saturday, authorities detained dozens of protesters as they marched, also without a permit, through Manhattan’s financial district toward Union Square