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by The Associated Press
The Associated Press - October 15, 2011
From coast to coast and North to South, the Occupy Wall Street protest against corporate greed that started out with a few young people in a lower Manhattan park grew to vocal thousands with weekend rallies in about two dozen states and supporters joining in from Canada and overseas.
Tens of thousands nicknamed "the indignant" marched in cities across Europe on Saturday. Violence broke out in Rome and dozens were injured.
Marches in the United States remained largely nonconfrontational, although dozens of people were arrested in New York when police moved to contain overflowing crowds or keep them off private property. Two police officers in New York City were injured and had to be hospitalized.
Action In New York
In Times Square, thousands of demonstrators mixed with gawkers, Broadway showgoers, tourists and police to create a chaotic scene in the midst of Manhattan.
"Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" protesters chanted from within police barricades. Police, some in riot gear and mounted on horses, tried to push them out of the square and onto the sidewalks in an attempt to funnel the crowds away.
Sandra Fox, 69, of Baton Rouge, La., stood, confused, on 46th Street with a ticket for "Anything Goes" in her hand as riot police pushed a knot of about 200 shouting protesters toward her.
"I think it's horrible what they're doing," she said of the protesters. "These people need to go get jobs."
The Times Square rally lasted several hours before the crowd dispersed. Over the course of what was billed as "a global day of protest," city police arrested more than 80 people in demonstrations at Times Square, Washington Square Park and a nearby Citibank bank branch. Police cited violations such as wearing masks, criminal trespass, and refusing to leave the park at midnight when police warned them it was closed.
Police spokesman Paul Browne said one of the police officers hospitalized suffered a head injury, the other a foot injury. Two dozen were arrested when demonstrators entered the Citibank bank branch and refused to leave, police said.
Citibank said in a statement that police asked the branch to close until the protesters could be taken away. "One person asked to close an account and was accommodated," Citibank said.
Earlier in the day, as many as 1,000 demonstrators paraded to a Chase bank branch, banging drums, blowing horns and carrying signs decrying corporate greed. 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.
Lily Paulina of Brooklyn 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," the 29-year-old United Auto Workers organizer said.
Police told the marchers to stay on the sidewalk, and the demonstration seemed fairly orderly as it wound through downtown streets.
Sergio Jimenez, 25, said he quit his job in Texas to come to New York to protest. He participated in an anti-war march to mark the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan War.
"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."
'People Are Angry' Nationwide
Throughout the country — from about 50 people in Jackson, Miss., to some 2,000 in Pittsburgh — the protest gained momentum.
Police have made arrests following protests in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. Reporters and protesters saw an estimated 40 people detained around midnight Saturday just north of downtown Phoenix. Officers there declined to comment, and official spokesmen did not immediately return calls. In Tuscon, some protesters were arrested after they remained in a park of the 10:30 p.m. closing time, police spokesman Matt Ronstadt said. He did not provide a number, but said those arrested were issued citations and released.
Nearly 1,500 protesters gathered for a march past banks in downtown Orlando, Fla. Hundreds marched on a Key Bank branch in Anchorage, and declared it be foreclosed. In Colorado, about 1,000 people rallied in downtown Denver to support Occupy Wall Street. Nearly 200 people spent a cold night in tents in Grand Circus Park in Detroit, donning gloves, scarves and heavy coats to keep warm. Helen Stockton, a 34-year-old certified midwife from Ypsilanti, said they planned 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 included parents with children in strollers. The peaceful crowd 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 before the march.
Retired teacher Albert Siemsen said at a demonstration in Milwaukee that he'd grown angry watching school funding get cut at the same time 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."
In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick visited protesters in Boston's Dewey Square for the first time. He said after walking through the camp that he better understands the range of views and was sympathetic to concerns about unemployment, health care and the influence of money in politics.
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 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.
Hundreds protested in the heart of Toronto's financial district. Some 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.
Overseas, 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.
In the violence that broke out in Rome, police fired tear gas and water cannons at the protesters who broke away from the main demonstration, smashing shop and bank windows, torching cars and hurling bottles. [Copyright 2011 The Associated Press]
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