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Occupy Wall Street protesters serenaded by Pete Seeger

October 22, 2011|By Geraldine Baum | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Folk music legend Pete Seeger led Occupy Wall Street protesters in song late Friday in Manhattan.

Seeger, 92, had joined marchers on the Upper West Side earlier in the evening. When they reached Columbus Circle, he led them in a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." He was accompanied by his grandson, Tao Rodgriguez-Seeger, along with fellow artists Arlo Guthrie, Tom Chapin and David Amram.

The musicians had all performed Friday night at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side and then fell in line with a crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators who marched down Broadway, according to the Associated Press.

Surrounded by protesters, Seeger, with the aid of two canes and wearing a red knit cap, led them along the way in a variety of songs including "We Shall Overcome," which he popularized in the 1960s along with other singers.

He has been a figure in just about every major antiwar protest movement in the last 50 years and has fought for racial and economic equality.

At one point, Seeger explained the lyrics of one song for the crowd:

"The words are simple: 'I could be happy spending my days on the river that flows both way-ay-ays.'" A native of Manhattan, Seeger was referring to the Hudson River, which the Indians called "the river that flows both ways."

At one point in Columbus Circle, Seeger stopped to bang a metal statue of an elephant with his cane and the crowd cheered.

Police watched from the sidelines as the singing and placard-carrying demonstrators coursed down the busy sidewalks of Broadway.

Protesters have been camped since mid-September in a park near Wall Street in lower Manhattan, not without tension and clashes.

This week they enraged neighbors in the area around the park for defecating in the streets and on sidewalks. The neighbors complained at a community board meeting about the constant noise and the state of the park. The owner had said he was going to clean up the park, but then backed off after protesters insisted the cleaning and new rules were just a trick to evict them.

But the movement has many supporters, not just in New York but across the country. An Associated Press-GfK poll says more than one-third of the country supports the Wall Street protesters, and even more, 58%, say they are furious about America's politics.

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