Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Wall St.-inspired protests spreading worldwide

Detroit Free Press
Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests spreading around the world

Oct. 17, 2011

Protesters opposed to economic inequality gathered on four continents over the weekend, camping out from Hong Kong to London, as a Rome rally turned violent and police in New York and Chicago arrested more than 250 people.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations that began last month in Lower Manhattan migrated uptown Saturday, as about 6,000 people gathered in Times Square during what organizers called a "global day of action against Wall Street greed."

There were 92 arrests, according to the New York Police Department. More than 100 people were injured in Rome, where as many as 200,000 amassed, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan was among 19 demonstrators arrested early Sunday in the California state capital of Sacramento. A police spokeswoman said 18 other demonstrators also were arrested.

In Detroit, more than 100 demonstrators remained at Grand Circus Park on Sunday at the close of a quiet weekend.

Chicago police arrested about 175 protesters in Grant Park about 1 a.m. Sunday after they refused to disperse, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In London, more than 250 people camped out overnight in the plaza in front of St. Paul's Cathedral, organizers said, and 87 tents remained at midday. Banners attached to the tents included signs reading "People Before Profit" and "The People are Too Big to Fail," while protesters made speeches from the steps of the cathedral using megaphones.

Demonstrators plan to stay "as long as it takes," Spyro van Leemnen, a supporter of Occupy London Stock Exchange, said in a phone interview. The cathedral is on the edge of the city's financial district.

Sydney, Toronto and other cities also saw protests in support of the month-old movement, which organizers say represents the 99%, a nod to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz's study showing the top 1% of Americans control 40% of U.S. wealth.

In Hong Kong, protests extended for a second day Sunday in the central financial district. Demonstrations also were held in Seoul, South Korea; Taipei, Taiwan, and Tokyo.

Occupy Wall Street shows that Americans want a "financial system that works" and don't want new banking rules overturned, a chief campaign strategist for President Barack Obama said.

"I don't think any American is impressed when they see Gov. (Mitt) Romney and all the Republican (presidential) candidates say the first thing they'd do is roll back Wall Street reforms and go back to where we were before the crisis and let Wall Street write its own rules," David Axelrod said on ABC's "This Week."

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