Arrests at New York and Rome ‘Occupy’ rallies

Dozens detained in New York as anti-Wall Street protesters march on Times Square, while protests turn violent in Italy.

Dozens of people have been arrested in New York as thousands of anti-corporate protesters marched to the city’s famous Times Square at the culmination of a day of global demonstrations inspired by the ‘Occupy Wall Street” movement.

Police, some on horseback, packed 71 protesters in vans after thousands of demonstrators mixed with tourists converged on the major commercial intersection, divided by police barriers.

The demonstrators in lower Manhattan on Saturday banged drums and chanted “We got sold out, banks got bailed out,” “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, corporate greed has got to go.”

Protests were also held elsewhere in the United States and Canada, notably in Washington DC, the US capital.

Violence in Rome

Violence broke out during the day in Rome as tens of thousands nicknamed “the indignant” marched in several European cities in protest against capitalism and austerity measures.

Black smoke billowed into the air in the centre of the Rome as a small group of violent protesters broke away from the main demonstration. They smashed shop windows, set vehicles on fire and assaulted two news crews. Others burned Italian and EU flags.

Al Jazeera’s Claudio Lavanga and Cath Turner report respectively from the Rome and New York protests

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, said that those responsible for the rash of violence would be identified and punished, calling the rioting “a very worrying sign for civil society … they (radicals) must be condemned by everyone without reservation”.

Italian police said that at least four people had been injured in the clashes, while the ANSA news agency reported that as many as 70 had been wounded, with three in serious condition.

Security forces locked down the centre of the city, closing metro stations and major monuments such as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, blamed the violence on “a few thousand thugs” who “infiltrated the demonstration”.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, around 4,000 people marched through the streets, with banners that urged the end of capitalism. Some marchers scuffled with police as they tried to get near the country’s parliamentary buildings.

In Frankfurt, continental Europe’s financial capital, about 5,000 people protested in front of the European Central Bank.

Assange address

Outside London’s iconic St Paul’s cathedral, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke to about 500 demonstrators.

“The banking system in London is the recipient of corrupt money,” he said, adding that WikiLeaks would launch a campaign against financial institutions in the coming months.

Scuffles broke out in the UK capital between police and protesters, who raised banners saying “Strike
back!”; “No cuts!” and “Goldman Sachs is the work of the devil!”

In Paris, the French capital, about 1,000 protesters rallied in front of city hall, coinciding with a G-20 finance chief’s meeting.

In the Bosnian city of Sarajevo, hundreds walked through the streets carrying pictures of Che Guevara and old communist flags that read “Death to capitalism, freedom to the people”.

Another 500 people gathered to hear speakers denounce capitalism at a peaceful rally in downtown Stockholm, holding up red flags and banners that read “We are the 99 per cent” and “We refuse to pay for capitalism’s crisis.”

The reference was to the world’s richest one per cent, who control billions in assets, while billions around the world live in poverty or are struggling economically.

Tens of thousands of Portuguese, angry at their government’s handling of the economic crisis, also took to the streets of Lisbon. Other protests were staged in Geneva, Amsterdam, Athens, Brussels, Geneva, Zurich and Melbourne.

Authors sign online petition

A group of 100 prominent authors, including Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists Jennifer Egan and Michael Cunningham, signed an online petition declaring their support for “Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world.”

Occupy Wall Street in New York City’s Zuccotti Park

Demonstrations of various sizes also took place in Asia, namely in Japan’s Tokyo, the Philippines’ Manila, Taiwan’s Taipei, South Korea’s Seoul and China’s Hong Kong.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched to the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to show dissatisfaction over the handling of the nuclear disaster triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Despite heavy rains in Seoul, the South Korean capital, members of more than 30 civic groups congregated in the city’s financial district.

In Manila, about 100 members of Bayan, an alliance of various left-wing groups in the Philippines, marched to the US embassy, waving banners that read: “Down with US imperialism” and “Philippines not for sale”, broadcaster APTN reported.

In Hong Kong, more than 200 people gathered at Exchange Square Podium in the city’s central shopping and business district.

Some pitched tents to stay overnight at the site while others later migrated to the HSBC building nearby.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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