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Wall Street Protests Risk Harm to NYC Economy, Mayor Says

Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Demonstrators protesting bank bailouts and calling for increased Wall Street regulation may harm New York City’s economy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

“What they’re trying to do is take the jobs away from people working in this city,” Bloomberg said today during his weekly appearance on WOR radio. “They’re trying to take away the tax base we have. None of this is good for tourism.”

The mayor’s comments are his first addressing the economic impact of the protests, which began Sept. 17. The demonstrations have cost the city about $1.9 million in officers’ overtime, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said today.

Wall Street contributed about 7 percent of city tax revenue in fiscal 2010, according to a November report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. DiNapoli, who described the securities industry as the city’s “economic engine,” said one in seven jobs in the city, and one in 13 in the state, is associated with Wall Street.

The Occupy Wall Street movement that began in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park has spread to more than 45 U.S. states and to cities including Washington, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and Denver. U.S. labor unions support the demonstrations, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has said.

At least 723 demonstrators have been arrested in Manhattan. Police department spokesman Paul Browne has said officers used pepper spray and batons on some to keep order.

Under Investigation

Allegations of excessive force are being investigated, Kelly told reporters today at police headquarters in Manhattan.

“Complaints have been made and those complaints have been referred to the Civilian Complaint board,” he said.

Bloomberg’s remarks came in response to a woman who lives near the protest site. She telephoned the radio program to complain about noise from the demonstrators.

“I couldn’t agree with you more; you have a right, too,” the mayor told the woman. “We are trying to deal with this in a way that doesn’t make the problem grow and protects everybody’s rights.”

Some demonstrators have “legitimate complaints,” the mayor said. At the same time, he said, if financial jobs are jeopardized, “we’re not going to have any money to pay our municipal employees or clean the parks or anything else.”

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg News.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Goldman in New York City Hall at hgoldman@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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