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Crowd Gathers In New York, Ahead Of Wall Street Protest

As the sun rose on Zuccotti Park, a crowd began to gather. Amid the falling leaves and the the occasional shouts for a "mic check," the park was flooded by TV camera lights and the constant hum of two helicopters flying high above the buildings.

It's a cold day in New York and the Occupy Wall Street movement is hoping for a strong showing to mark their second anniversary, but by 6:30 a.m., the crowd was thin, perhaps 100 people.

Robert Segal, 47, said he was not going to march today, but he was here to "support community building."

"I don't do spectacle," he said. "Today's march," he said, "is promised to be quite a spectacle. If the past gives us any indication, there will be much hilarity."

There's also bound to be some conflict. Every once in a while, a passerby will shout at the group from the sidewalks. One man in a Raider's cap screamed, "Get a job!"

A screaming match ensued. Meghan White, 19, a college student who drove in for the rally said that wasn't the point.

"We're fighting for the right to not be poor anymore," White said.

We challenged her a bit on that. She's 19 and a full-time college student.

"It's not about me," she said. It's about the people who have a job and still can't "afford a home."

She looked up at the buildings and said, "I just can't imagine why there's such a gap between people in this country," she said.

Ray McAndrew and David Faes, both 19, jumped in.

"It's about corporate influence on our government," said McAndrew.

"It's about keeping corporate money out of government," said Faes.

They pointed to the recent Stop Online Piracy Act, which is backed by big corporations, but they say will affect them and the medium which they use to organize.

Politicians they said are not taking into account their voices, which demand a free and open Internet. Instead they're listening to big corporations they say want to censor the Internet.

Closer to 7 a.m., the crowd had grown. The park, however, is still far from full. The ultimate goal of today is to shut down Wall Street. We'll keep you updated as the day unfolds.

Update at 8:12 a.m. ET. Within A Block Of Wall Street:

It was a a short march punctuated by chants of "Whose street? Our street!" and "This is what Democracy looks like."

The side walks of Lower Manhattan felt packed and crowds eventually poured onto the streets, standing vehicles along the way. On Pine Street, protesters came within a block of Wall Street.

From the police barricades, you could see the facade.

Update at 7:33 a.m. ET. March Begins:

The march toward the New York Stock Exchange began a few moments ago. What became clear is that this will be a cat and mouse game between protesters and police. As protesters were leaving the park, police closed off some of the cross walks, so protesters just moved farther down the block. Eventually the protesters ended up at a plaza just in front of Zuccotti Park.

"This is beautiful," said one protester, screaming and amplified by what protesters call "the people's mic," which is a system in which the crowd repeats what the speaker is saying.

"This is more beautiful than that will ever be," he said pointing in the direction of the NYSE. "For now, let's wait. We wait for thousands of people and then we shut down Wall Street."

One thing that is certain is that many of the protesters today are planning on being arrested. Some of the group's organizers were handing out the number for Occupy's legal team.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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