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Thousands join NYC protest against corporate greed

By Chris Hawley

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Oct. 16 2011 2:50 a.m. MDT

New York City police officers arrest people who were at a Citibank branch near Washington Square park where the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are holding a rally, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 in New York.

Mary Altaffer, Associated Press

NEW YORK — 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.

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."

Throughout the country — from about 50 people in Jackson, Miss., to some 2,000 in Pittsburgh — the protest gained momentum.

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