Wall St. protesters march again in NYC, elsewhere
NEW YORK (AP) – Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York City paraded to a Chase bank branch Saturday, banging drums, blowing horns and carrying signs decrying corporate greed. Marchers throughout the country emulated them in protests that ranged from about 50 people in Jackson, Miss., to at least a thousand each in such larger cities as Denver and Pittsburgh.
“Banks got bailed out. We got sold out,” the crowd of as many as 1,000 in Manhattan chanted. A few protesters went inside the bank to close their accounts, but the group didn’t stop other customers from getting inside or seek to blockade the business.
Police told the marchers to stay on the sidewalk, and the demonstration appeared to be fairly orderly as it wound through downtown streets.
Later, police arrested 24 people at a Citibank branch near Manhattan’s Washington Square Park. Most were detained for trespassing after they ignored a request by the bank to leave, police said.
Overseas, violence broke out in Rome, where police fired tear gas and water cannons at some protesters who broke away from the main demonstration, smashing shop and bank windows, torching cars and hurling bottles. Dozens were injured.
Tens of thousands nicknamed “the indignant” marched in cities across Europe, as the protests that began in New York linked up with long-running demonstrations against government cost-cutting and failed financial policies in Europe. Protesters also turned out in Australia and Asia.
Across the Atlantic, hundreds protested in the heart of Toronto’s financial district. Some of the protesters announced plans to camp out indefinitely in St. James Park. Protests were also held in other cities across Canada from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Vancouver, British Columbia.
In the U.S., among the demonstrators in New York withdrawing their money from Chase was Lily Paulina, 29, an organizer with the United Auto Workers union who lives in Brooklyn. She said she was taking her money out because she was upset that JPMorgan Chase was making billions, while its customers struggled with bank fees and home foreclosures.
“Chase bank is making tons of money off of everyone … while people in the working class are fighting just to keep a living wage in their neighborhood,” she said.
“We aren’t going to be a part of this system that doesn’t work for us,” said another demonstrator withdrawing her money, 20-year-old Brooklyn College student Biola Jeje.
Other demonstrations were planned around the city all day Saturday, including an anti-war march to mark the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan War.
Among the people participating in that march was Sergio Jimenez, 25, who said he quit his job in Texas to come to New York to protest.
“These wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were all based on lies,” Jimenez said. “And if we’re such an intelligent country, we should figure out other ways to respond to terror, instead of with terror.”
Elsewhere in the U.S., nearly 1,500 gathered Saturday for a march past banks in downtown Orlando. About 50 people ranging from college students to older people met in a park in downtown Jackson, Miss., carrying signs calling for “Health Care Not Warfare.” Organizers expected more people to come and go during the day.
Some made more considerable commitments to try to get their voices heard. Nearly 200 spent a cold night in tents in Grand Circus Park in Detroit, donning gloves, scarves and heavy coats to keep warm, said Helen Stockton, a 34-year-old certified midwife from Ypsilanti, and plan to remain there “as long as it takes to effect change.”
“It’s easy to ignore us,” Stockton said. Then she referred to the financial institutions, saying, “But we are not going to ignore them. Every shiver in our bones reminds us of why we are here.”
Hundreds more converged near the Michigan’s Capitol in Lansing with the same message, the Lansing State Journal reported.
Rallies drew young and old, laborers and retirees. In Pittsburgh, marchers also included parents with children in strollers and even a doctor. The peaceful crowd of 1,500 to 2,000 stretched for two or three blocks.
“I see our members losing jobs. People are angry,” said Janet Hill, 49, who works for the United Steelworkers, which she said hosted a sign-making event prior to the march.
Retired teacher Albert Siemsen of Milwaukee said at a demonstration there that he’d grown angry watching school funding get cut at the same time that banks and corporations gained more influence in government. The 81-year-old wants to see tighter Wall Street regulation.
Around him, protesters held signs reading, “Keep your corporate hands off my government,” and “Mr. Obama, Tear Down That Wall Street.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick visited protesters in Boston’s Dewey Square for the first time. He said that after walking through the camp, he better understands the range of views and was sympathetic to concerns about unemployment, health care and the influence of money in politics.
And in Denver, about 1,000 people came to a rally in downtown Denver in support of the movement.
The Rev. Al Sharpton led a march in Washington that was not affiliated with the Occupy movement but shared similar goals. His rally was aimed at drumming up support for President Barack Obama’s jobs plan. Thousands of demonstrators packed the lawn in the shadow of the Washington Monument to hear labor, education and civil rights leaders speak.