Thousands of protesters fill NYC’s Times Square
NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators protesting corporate greed filled Times Square on Saturday night, 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 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 Salt Lake City, 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.
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 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 70 people were arrested.
Police spokesman Paul Browne said 42 people were arrested in Times Square on Saturday night after being warned repeatedly to disperse, and 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.
Five people wearing masks were arrested earlier in the day. It wasn’t immediately clear what charges, if any, they may face.
Two dozen people were arrested on charges of criminal trespass Saturday morning when demonstrators entered a Citibank bank branch near Washington Square Park and refused to leave, police said. One protester also was arrested on a charge of resisting arrest.
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, demonstrators 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, Miss., 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.
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.
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.
Across the Atlantic, hundreds protested in the heart of Toronto’s financial district. Some of the protesters announced plans to camp out indefinitely in St. James Park. Protests were also held in other cities across Canada from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Vancouver, British Columbia.
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.
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. About 50 people met in a park in downtown Jackson, Miss., carrying signs calling for “Health Care Not Warfare.”
Some made more considerable commitments to try to get their voices heard. Nearly 200 spent a cold night in tents in Grand Circus Park in Detroit, donning gloves, scarves and heavy coats to keep warm, said Helen Stockton, a 34-year-old certified midwife from Ypsilanti, and plan 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.”