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Protesters demonstrate outside US courthouses

By Meghan Barr

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 20 2012 12:11 p.m. MST

People protest against spending in federal elections in front of the U.S. District Courthouse in Baltimore, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012. Anti-Wall Street demonstrators across the U.S. planned rallies Friday in front of banks and courthouses.

Patrick Semansky, Associated Press

NEW YORK — An elaborate plan to occupy courthouses in cities across the nation started off quietly on Friday, with only a few dozen demonstrators turning out to protest a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that removed most limits on corporate and labor spending in U.S. elections.

Move to Amend, the grassroots coalition that organized the event, said protesters in more than 100 cities would launch petition drives to gain support for a constitutional amendment that would overturn a 2010 court ruling.

Occupy Wall Street activists have joined forces with the group.

In Washington, D.C., just 150 protesters made an appearance Friday morning outside the U.S. Supreme Court, a small crowd compared with the average protest in the nation's capital.

In Baltimore, about two dozen protesters drew occasional honks from passing drivers as they stood outside the federal courthouse with signs that read: "Corporations are not people, Money is not speech," and "B-heard: Corporate money out of politics."

A demonstration of about 100 people outside the federal courthouse in Minneapolis included chants and street theater. One skit involved a judge who performed a marriage ceremony between a person and a corporation.

In San Francisco, several protesters chained themselves to the front doors of Wells Fargo's corporate headquarters and linked arms to prevent people from going inside a Bank of America branch. No arrests have been reported so far.

But in St. Louis, just four people showed up for a planned gathering outside of City Hall. They hung around for several minutes before leaving without a rally.

It was a far cry from Occupy protests in the fall, when hundreds gathered around the clock at a small downtown park near Busch Stadium.

"Back in October it was easy to find out what was going on," said 51-year-old Don Higgins of St. Louis. "You just went down to Kiener Plaza and asked somebody."

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Associated Press Writers Brett Zongker in Baltimore, Kristen Wyatt in Denver and Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.

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