Thousands of ‘Occupy‘ protesters fill New York Times Square
By CHRIS HAWLEY Associated Press October 16, 2011 8:06AM
A demonstrator affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street rally at Washington Square park, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 in New York. As many as 1,000 protesters were marching to a Chase bank branch in the financial district, banging drums, blowing horns and carrying signs decrying corporate greed. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Updated: October 16, 2011 8:07AM
Thousands of demonstrators protesting corporate greed filled New York City’s Times Square, mixing 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 Saturday 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.
Sandy Peterson, of Utah, who was in Times Square after seeing “The Book of Mormon” musical on Broadway, got caught up in the disorder.
“We’re getting out of here before this gets ugly,” she said.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators had marched north through Manhattan from Washington Square Park earlier in the afternoon. Once in Times Square, they held a rally for several hours before dispersing. Over the course of the day, more than 80 people were arrested.
After midnight, about 10 people were loaded into a police van after refusing to leave Washington Square Park, where protesters had returned to convene a meeting following the Times Square rally. The police had warned protesters that the park had closed, and began massing in riot gear and on horses a few minutes before then; most people had left by then.
Police spokesman Paul Browne said 42 people were arrested in Times Square on Saturday night after being warned repeatedly to disperse; three others were arrested while trying to take down police barriers.
Two police officers were injured during the protest and had to be hospitalized. One suffered a head injury, the other a foot injury, Browne said.
Earlier in the day, demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York City paraded to a Chase bank branch, banging drums, blowing horns and carrying signs decrying corporate greed. Marchers throughout the country emulated them in protests that ranged from about 50 people in Jackson, Mississippi, to about 2,000 in the larger city of Pittsburgh.
“Banks got bailed out. We got sold out,” the crowd of as many as 1,000 in Manhattan chanted. 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.
Police told the marchers to stay on the sidewalk, and the demonstration appeared to be fairly orderly as it wound through downtown streets.
Later, police arrested 24 people at a Citibank branch near Manhattan’s Washington Square Park. Most were detained for trespassing after they ignored a request by the bank to leave, police said.
Overseas, violence broke out in Rome, where police fired tear gas and water cannons at some protesters who broke away from the main demonstration, smashing shop and bank windows, torching cars and hurling bottles. Dozens were injured.
A dozen demonstrators were arrested, the Italian news agency reported. Those arrested came from several Italian cities, especially in the south. Police said they seized clubs and incendiary devices from the protesters.
Tens of thousands nicknamed “the indignant” marched in cities across Europe, as the protests that began in New York linked up with long-running demonstrations against government cost-cutting and failed financial policies in Europe. Protesters also turned out in Australia and Asia.
In Canada, hundreds protested in the heart of Toronto’s financial district. Some of the protesters announced plans to camp out indefinitely in St. James Park and protests were also held in other cities across Canada from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Vancouver, British Columbia.
In Mexico City, a few hundred protesters gathered under the towering, stone Revolution Monument to protest “exploitation” by wealthy elites. In the border city of Tijuana, about 100 protesters gathered in the banking district, including many university students protesting against the lack of jobs for graduates.
In the U.S., among the demonstrators in New York withdrawing their money from Chase was Lily Paulina, 29, an organizer with the United Auto Workers union who lives in Brooklyn. She 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,” she said.
“We aren’t going to be a part of this system that doesn’t work for us,” said another demonstrator withdrawing her money, 20-year-old Brooklyn College student Biola Jeje.
Other demonstrations in the city Saturday included an anti-war march to mark the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan War.
Among the people participating in that march was Sergio Jimenez, 25, who said he quit his job in Texas to come to New York to protest.
“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.”
Elsewhere in the country, nearly 1,500 gathered Saturday for a march past banks in downtown Orlando. In Arizona, reporters and protesters saw an estimated 40 people detained around midnight Saturday at a park just north of downtown Phoenix.
In Colorado, about 1,000 people rallied in downtown Denver to support Occupy Wall Street and at least two dozen were arrested. Nearly 200 people spent a cold night in tents in Grand Circus Park in Detroit, donning gloves, scarves and heavy coats to keep warm. Helen Stockton, a 34-year-old certified midwife from Ypsilanti, said they planned to remain there “as long as it takes to effect change.”
“It’s easy to ignore us,” Stockton said. Then she referred to the financial institutions, saying, “But we are not going to ignore them. Every shiver in our bones reminds us of why we are here.”
Hundreds more converged near the Michigan’s Capitol in Lansing with the same message, the Lansing State Journal reported.
Rallies drew young and old, laborers and retirees. In Pittsburgh, marchers also included parents with children in strollers and even a doctor. The peaceful crowd of 1,500 to 2,000 stretched for two or three blocks.
“I see our members losing jobs. People are angry,” said Janet Hill, 49, who works for the United Steelworkers, which she said hosted a sign-making event before the march.
Retired teacher Albert Siemsen of Milwaukee said at a demonstration there that he’d grown angry watching school funding get cut at the same time that banks and corporations gained more influence in government. The 81-year-old wants to see tighter Wall Street regulation.
Around him, protesters held signs reading, “Keep your corporate hands off my government,” and “Mr. Obama, Tear Down That Wall Street.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick visited protesters in Boston’s Dewey Square for the first time. He said that after walking through the camp, he better understands the range of views and was sympathetic to concerns about unemployment, health care and the influence of money in politics.
And in Denver, about 1,000 people came to a rally in downtown Denver to support the movement.
Associated Press writers Kevin Begos in Pittsburgh, Eric Tucker in Washington, Jay Lindsay in Boston, Corey Williams in Detroit, Dinesh Ramde in Milwaukee and Jack Elliott Jr. in Jackson, Mississippi, Charmaine Noronha in Toronto, and Colleen Long, David B. Caruso and AP Radio correspondent Martin Di Caro in New York contributed to this report.