Photo by MARIO LAPORTA/AFP/Getty Images
UPDATE: The global “Day of Rage” demonstrations that broke out around the world in "more than 900 cities," says the Washington Post, against economic inequality and corporate greed Saturday were mostly peaceful. Except for Rome, where violence broke out and dozens were injured in the city’s “worst violence in years,” writes the BBC. “Yesterday we once again showed the world the anomaly of Italy and today, again, we have to feel shame,” La Stampa newspaper said, according to Reuters. Bloomberg cites local newspaper Corriere della Serra reporting that police arrested 12 out of 20 people that were held yesterday, noting that violent demonstrators only accounted for “about 2,000 out of 200,000 who turned out.” The hooded protesters burned cars and smashed bank windows, while police claimed they found “unexploded petrol bombs in several streets,” according to the BBC.
Around 175 protesters were arrested in Chicago early Sunday morning after they set up tents in a downtown plaza and refused to leave, reports the Chicago Tribune. In New York, at least 88 people were arrested, according to the New York Times, for a variety of violations, including criminal trespassing and refusing to leave Washington Square Park at midnight. The Associated Press says two police officers had to be hospitalized after suffering injuries. The protests moved uptown Saturday to Times Square as thousands of demonstrators mixed with everyday tourists trying to make it to their Broadway shows. The Huffington Post blares on its front page of “estimates as high as 20,000” in Times Square but it’s unclear where that number comes from beyond early Twitter claims that WNBC was reporting 10,000-20,000 people were in the area. The BBC cites organizers of the march saying that around 5,000 people took part.
There were tense moments at several points Saturday, including when protesters tried to stage “a sit-in at a Citibank branch,” reports the New York Daily News. The New York Observer cites a protester saying customers had gone into the bank to close their accounts but were locked inside by security. As most clamored for a lack of jobs, the AP finds a 25-year-old who quit his job in Texas to go protest in New York. But there were protests across the country Saturday, and a few arrests in several other U.S. cities, including Minneapolis, reports CNN. Yet that didn’t seem to be norm. In Los Angeles, for example, “the march took on a decidedly festive atmosphere,” reports the Los Angeles Times, noting that for many it was a family event.
The protests were continuing Sunday. And not just in New York. Around 400 protesters erected tents outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London’s financial district and remained there Sunday morning, vowing to occupy the site indefinitely, reports the Guardian. Protesters picked that site after they were thwarted from taking over “the area in front of the nearby London Stock Exchange,” reports Reuters. There is no sign that the Occupy Wall Street movement is ready to give up anytime soon, and they have “amassed a $230,000 war chest,” reports the New York Post, noting that sympathizers are giving cash online. The protesters are also being flooded with supplies from well-wishers who are sending food and warm clothing.
ORIGINAL POST Saturday 11:26 a.m.: A week ago, Facebook pages and planned “Occupy” events numbered a few hundred in the U.S., and many politicians seemed on the fence about whether the movement deserved any attention at all, let alone support.
But Saturday protests large and small had spread beyond American cities and were taking place everywhere from Rome and New Zealand to Taipei, according to the BBC, suggesting the actions decrying the financial system in New York City have gone global.
“The ruling powers work for the benefit of just a few, ignoring the will of the vast majority and the human and environmental price we all have to pay,” stated the organizers’ website, which claimed to be planning events in 951 cities and 82 countries worldwide on October 15. “This intolerable situation must end. United in one voice, we will let politicians the financial elites the serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future.”
The Associated Press reports that tens of thousands marched in European cities. In Rome, where protesters took to the streets in high numbers, cars were set on fire and banks were defaced. Protesters who broke off from the larger group in Rome threw bottles and trashed offices of the defense ministry, clashing with riot police, according to AP.
Other actions were relatively small but numerous; 2000 in Sydney, Australia, hundreds in New Zealand’s Auckland and South Korea. Protesters in Madrid, Spain, painted grafitti that criticized politicians for serving the banks first and the people second.
About 100 demonstrated at Taiwan’s stock exchange in Taipei, one protester telling the BBC: “Not just in America, but in Taiwan too, inequality is becoming a huge issue.” In Japan, some 200 reportedly marched through areas of Tokyo to call attention to poverty.
In New York, protesters were riding high off an apparent victory over Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the owners of Zuccotti Park, who had planned to clear them out for cleaning on Friday but at the last minute apparently folded under political pressure from other government officials. Occupy Wall Street protesters planned a “party” in Times Square Saturday night, buoyed by support via a donation of the art for their invite from famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who also designed the famous “Hope” poster depicting 2008 candidate Barack Obama.