Members of Occupy Wall Street face off with police during a celebration march after learning that they can stay on Zuccotti Park in New York, October 14, 2011. Occupy Wall Street protesters and the New York Police Department avoided a potential clash as the real estate company that owns Zuccotti Park, where the protests began, decided to put off its planned cleaning of the square. Amid what was described as a celebratory march by a small group of protesters, scattered clashes with the police broke out, who bulked up their presence at the Zuccotti Park location, which has been home for hundreds of the protesters. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images) / EMMANUEL DUNAND
NEW YORK - More than 50 Occupy Wall Street protesters are headed toward a trial on disorderly conduct charges after they refused prosecutors' offers Thursday to dismiss the charges if they stay out of trouble for six months.
They were among 79 demonstrators due in Manhattan criminal court on charges stemming from a Sept. 24 march to Union Square.
Prosecutors said the demonstrators blocked traffic and prevented pedestrians from getting by. But many of the protesters said the disorderly conduct charges weren't justified. They said they stayed on the sidewalk, took care to leave a path for others to get through and followed police instructions.
"We clearly were very peaceful, and there was no reason for it," said Tile Wolfe, 19, who works at a New York nonprofit. "I was arrested on a sidewalk, standing with peace signs in the air, so it was kind of absurd."
She and others who turned down the offer officially called an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal were released without bail until a Jan. 9 court date. A lawyer who represented many of them, Martin R. Stolar, said the cases should be dismissed because of "the ambiguity of the police orders that everybody received."
Fewer than 10 demonstrators accepted the offer. A judge immediately dismissed one case, against John Farley, an editor with WNET's website, after the public television station wrote to the court that he had been at the demonstration to report on it. Prosecutors said videos showed he was wearing a press credential when arrested.
About 14 of the 78 didn't show up for court. A judge issued arrest warrants but stayed them for now and set Jan. 9 court dates for them.