Anti-Wall St. movement grows to dozens of cities

By Chris Hawley

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Oct. 16 2011 9:48 a.m. MDT

NEW YORK — About 175 protesters who were part of a growing anti-corporate greed sentiment were arrested in Chicago early Sunday after they refused to take down their tents and leave a city park when it closed, somewhat of a contrast to demonstrators elsewhere, who have taken care to follow laws in order to continue protesting.

They were part of what was billed as "a global day of protest" for the Occupy Wall Street movement that started weeks ago with protests in New York and has grown to dozens of cities around the world.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in cities throughout the world Saturday to rally against what they see as corporate greed and Wall Street's role in the financial crisis. In Rome, rioters hijacked what had been a peaceful gathering and smashed windows, tore up sidewalks and torched vehicles. Repair costs were estimated at $1.4 million, the mayor said Sunday.

But most of the marches remained largely nonconfrontational, though dozens were arrested in New York and elsewhere in the U.S., in addition to those in Chicago, when police moved to contain overflowing crowds or keep them off private property. Two officers in New York were injured and had to be hospitalized.

In Chicago, about 500 people set up camp at the entrance to Grant Park on Saturday evening after a protest earlier in the day involving about 2,000, the Chicago Tribune reported. Police said they gave protesters repeated warnings after the park closed at 11 p.m. and began making arrests when they refused to leave.

Officers also asked protesters to take down their tents before beginning to cut them down to clear the area, police said. Protesters who were arrested would be released after background checks were done to make sure they didn't have any outstanding arrest warrants, police said. They could face fines for violating a municipal ordinance.

In New York, two dozen were arrested Saturday when demonstrators entered a Citibank branch and refused to leave, police said. They asked the branch to close until the protesters could be taken away.

Earlier, as many as 1,000 demonstrators also paraded to a Chase bank branch, banging drums, blowing horns and carrying signs decrying corporate greed. A few 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 of dollars, 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.

The day culminated in an event in the city's Times Square, where 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.

"It's horrible what they're doing," she said of the protesters. "These people need to go get jobs."

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.

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