Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators streamed across the threshold of Washington Square Park on Saturday afternoon after a spirited but conflict-free march from the financial district.
As a throng of protesters filled the historic public space, at the heart of Greenwich Village, a chant rose up — from voices young, old and in-between — casting their movement as an intractable majority fed up with the nation’s financial inequities.
“We are the 99 percent,” they yelled, referring to the movement’s slogan. Some banged drums. Others poked placards with various slogans toward blue skies on an unseasonably warm October weekend. Septuagenarians were in the crowd; one man walked a toddler on his feet.
They arrived about 3:20 p.m., some 75 minutes after leaving the encampment they had established three weeks ago in Zuccotti Park, in Lower Manhattan. They zigzagged up Broadway, west on Barclay Street, north on Church Street, west on Franklin, north on West Broadway until LaGuardia Place, and along the way many spoke of the significance of the moment and of an effort seemingly gaining strength as it enters its fourth week.
In fact, at one point, as some police commanders tried to steer the procession along Sixth Avenue, the marchers disagreed and stayed on West Broadway, passing through the central corridor of SoHo and its bookstores, cafes and restaurants. The police did not resist.
“This Saturday is interesting because now there are two parks holding protests,” said Max Fox, 23, an editor at The New Inquiry, an online magazine, who has attended Occupy Wall Street marches over the past two weeks. “It shows we can partially divide and still have significant presence in two parts of the city.”
Added Marika Kandelaki, 31, an artist: “I like how it’s expanding. It’s a good move to take it to different parts of the city. Hopefully this is just the start and people will continue to meet and rethink public space. Make the public really public.”
Despite the energy and optimism, no one missed the heavy contingent of police officers — or forgot how a series of past police actions lent an air of tension to Saturday’s march. Thick lines of officers flanked the main entrance of the park when the marchers entered. Rank-and-file officers, dressed in dark blue shirts, stood in pairs on the outer edges of the crowd. Others, in clusters of even more officers, guarded entrances and exits. Four commanders, in white shirts, were spotted on top of one of the columns at the northern end of the park, looking down on the crowd.
And on the blocks surrounding the park, police vans were parked all over with the countenances of police officers seated inside staring through the windows. Officers on horseback, too, were stationed around the park.
Many were aware that the park had a curfew that would arrive early Sunday morning. On Friday, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the number of officers present would be driven by the marchers’ actions, which he said he could not predict.
“We, obviously, would like advance notice of what they are going to do,” Mr. Kelly said. The park, he added, was a “regular park, a city park,” and said it had a curfew that he believed began at midnight.
Asked what he predicted would occur when that moment arrived, Mr. Kelly said, “I don’t have a crystal ball, but people will leave the park at the appropriate time, that is what I would anticipate happening.”
Christopher T. Dunn, of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said his understanding was that the park was open nightly until 1 a.m.
Mr. Dunn, who has walked with the marchers on several occasions, in an effort to minimize conflict with the police, said he was watching Saturday’s events closely. He added that he would be at the park if tensions erupted on Sunday morning.
On the Web site www.occupywallst.com, a schedule laid out both the intentions of the group to take to Washington Square Park for a “second general assembly,” between 3 and 5 p.m., as well as other events in Zuccotti Park on Saturday evening.
And despite speculation on Friday that Zuccotti Park might be abandoned by the protesters, it remained a vibrant encampment, with activity spilling onto the sidewalk and along Broadway and Liberty Street.
Just after 3 p.m., Justin Sane, of the band Anti-Flag, which is known for anti-corporate sentiments, stood near a tall metal sculpture at the southeast corner of Zuccotti Park and played a few songs on an acoustic guitar, including “This is the End,” from the band’s album “For Blood and Empire” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” by the Clash.
As the crowd sang along, he thanked them, saying, “You guys have beautiful voices; you sound like a choir of angels.”
Karen H. Dashow, a notary public, said she had come to take testimonials from people about their notions of an ideal world — and create legal documents by notarizing them.
“It’s not about what we don’t want,” Ms. Dashow, 39, said of the movement. “It’s about what we want.”
Running her stand, marked by a yellow balloon, from 3 to 5 p.m. each day since Thursday, Ms. Dashow, 39, said she had collected 41 petitions.
One of those who had her thoughts notarized was Puja Gupta, 28, who put no limits on the demonstrators’ ambitions for betterment. “I do hereby declare that I am a whole and complete human being,” she wrote on a official-looking form.
Other manifestos capturing people’s visions for the future ran the gamut. They included: “All beings shall reach enlightenment”; “Health and education is a right for all citizens”; and a vision of having “cars running on potatoes.”
Larry Martin, a professor of social sciences at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, was there with five students from a black college fraternity at the State University at Binghamton. He said the movement was gaining in diversity.
“We are coming because this is the spark of an economic abolitionist movement,” said Mr. Martin, equating this struggle to the country’s antislavery movement.
One of the Binghamton students, Anthony Steward, 20, a junior, said of the Occupy Wall Street effort: “It’s not going to go away. It’s a small representation of a long-term project.”
Smack amid the throngs of people, Eve Silber, who said she was part of Occupy Wall Street’s community affairs committee, stood with a stack of fliers in her arms and passed them out with vigor. The words on them encouraged prudence: Stay sober; respect people and property; keep the park clean.
“We’re here to present ourselves as those who could be accountable and seen as people who can make this world better,” said Ms. Silber, a jazz artist and music teacher.
Rob Harris, Colin Moynihan and Natasha Lennard contributed reporting.