Michael Moore: Occupy movement "killed apathy"

Filmmaker Michael Moore addresses several hundred Occupy Oakland protesters outside City Hall in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. Moore urged the protesters to continue demonstrating against what they see as a growing disparity between rich and poor.
AP Photo/Noah Berger

OAKLAND, Calif. - Filmmaker Michael Moore told anti-Wall Street protesters in Oakland that the Occupy movement - which has spread to cities across America and overseas - in inspiring millions who are angry about corporate excess, income inequality and the failure of politicians to address issues facing the majority of Americans.

"We've killed despair across the country and we've killed apathy," he said.

The director of the documentary films "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Bowling for Columbine" said people throughout the U.S. were "disgusted" and "horrified" when police fired tear gas and bean bags and took other aggressive actions against protesters Tuesday night.

Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, 24, remains hospitalized in fair condition with a fractured skull suffered from a projectile fired during a sweep of Frank Ogawa Plaza by police in riot gear. His condition has become a rallying cry at Occupy protests around the world.

Although police cleared protesters and their tents from the plaza Tuesday morning, the protesters and their tents returned the next day, and held a candlelight vigil for Olsen. The new encampment has grown to about 50 tents. Organizers said up to a thousand people were in the area late Friday night, with very few police in sight.

Addressing about 1,000 Occupy Oakland protesters in front of City Hall Friday, Moore said the week's events in Oakland will go down as a "watershed moment" in the Occupy Wall Street movement, reports CBS Station KPIX.

"Millions have seen this and are inspired by you because you came back the next night," said Moore.

Oakland protesters re-"Occupy" plaza
"Occupy" demonstrators rally around injured vet

Moore said the movement cannot tolerate violence against demonstrators. Referring to Olsen, Moore said, "It's absolutely criminal that this young man went to Iraq for a war he didn't agree with, and the only place he had to worry about was here in his own country, in Oakland, California."

He said the movement has already had "a number of victories in our first six weeks," saying, "I've never seen a movement take form so fast."

He also said the Occupy protests, which were initially dismissed by politicians and bankers, have changed the national discussion. "When was the last time in the last few weeks you heard them talking about the debt ceiling?" asked Moore.

Moore rhetorically asked the crowd, "There's no turning back, is there?" and the crowd answered with a loud "No!"

Moore urged protesters - many of whom are demonstrating against growing inequality between the rich and poor - to continue their movement until they run the country.

Meanwhile, Oakland's police chief said he takes responsibility for the crackdown on the anti-Wall Street protesters earlier this week.

Jordan defended the officers involved in the effort to drive protesters from a days-long encampment, saying they used what they believed to be the least amount of force possible to protect themselves.

"I want to ensure you that all allegations of misconduct and excessive uses of force are being thoroughly investigated," Jordan said.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who on Thursday publicly apologized for Tuesday's incident, said Friday that she did so because people got hurt.