Escorted by police vehicles as they helped snarl traffic across the Times Square area, beginning at Bryant Park, the group settled in front of barricades on the southwest corner of 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue, in view of the Sheraton hotel at which Mr. Obama was expected to appear by 9 p.m.
Demonstrators held signs that leveled some of the Occupy protest’s most pointed criticism to date of the president. “Obama is a corporate puppet,” one said. “War crimes must be stopped, no matter who does them,” read another, beside head shots of President George W. Bush and President Obama.
One man, wearing a mask of the president’s face and holding a cigar, carried a sign that read, “I sold out!”
Ben Campbell, 28, one of the march’s organizers, said he hoped to prove to skeptics of the protests that the demonstrators were political critics of equal opportunity.
“President Obama is coming to town solely to raise money from the richest of the rich,” Mr. Campbell said.