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Domino Effect: Wall Street protests go global; riots in Rome
With cars torched and banks attacked in Italian capital, over 40,000 march in Portugal and 4,000 rally in Athens, it would appear that the Wall Street protests have gone global.
October 16, 2011 10:17 by Reuters
“This is potentially the start of a strong movement,” said Olivier Milleron, a doctor whose group of trumpeters played the classic American folk song “This land is your land”.
Waitress Tiodhilde Fernagu, 26, took a day off work to attend. “For the first time in France there is a uniquely citizens’ movement” outside party politics, she said.
“THE INDIGNANT ONES”
The Rome protesters, who called themselves “the indignant ones”, included unemployed, students and pensioners.
“I am here to show support for those don’t have enough money to make it to the next pay cheque while the ECB (European Central Bank) keeps feeding the banks and killing workers and families,” said Danila Cucunia, a 43-year-old teacher from northern Italy.
“We can’t carry on any more with public debt that wasn’t created by us but by thieving governments, corrupt banks and speculators who don’t give a damn about us,” said Nicla Crippa, 49. “They caused this international crisis and are still profiting from it. They should pay for it.”
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi condemned the Rome violence, saying the culprits would be identified and punished.
In imitation of the occupation of Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in Manhattan, protesters have been camped out across the street from the headquarters of the Bank of Italy for days.
The worldwide protests were a response in part to calls by the New York demonstrators for more people to join them. Their example has prompted calls for similar occupations in dozens of U.S. cities from Saturday.
In Madrid, around 2,000 people had gathered for a march to the central Puerta del Sol. Placards read: “Put the bankers on the bench” and “Enough painkillers — euthanasia for the banks”.
“It’s not fair that they take your house away from you if you can’t pay your mortgage, but give billions to the banks for unclear reasons,” said 44-year-old telecoms company employee Fabia, who declined to give her surname.
Thousands of protesters also gathered in Barcelona and local radio said, and further demonstrations were planned in more than 60 Spanish towns in the evening.
In Germany, where sympathy for southern Europe’s debt troubles is not widespread, thousands gathered in Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig and outside the ECB in Frankfurt.
Demonstrators gathered peacefully in Paradeplatz, the main square in the Swiss financial centre of Zurich.
In London, around 2,000 people assembled outside St Paul’s Cathedral, near the City financial district, for a rally dubbed “Occupy the London Stock Exchange”.
Joe Dawson, 31, who lost his job as a product developer at Barclays Bank, said he had taken his two children aged 10 and 8 to the rally to show them people had a voice.
“I’m not passive anymore and I don’t want them to be. This is their future too,” Dawson said. “I work four jobs part-time, I take whatever I can get.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told the crowd: “I hope this protest will result in a similar process to what we saw in New York, Cairo and Tunisia,” he said, referring to revolutions in the Arab world.
Crowds numbering several hundred also staged protests in Vienna and Helsinki.
In New York City, hundreds of protesters marched on JP Morgan Chase bank buildings in the financial district, banging drums and chanting, “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.”
A police spokesman said 24 people were arrested, most of them for trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Similar protests were held in other U.S. cities and in Canada. In Washington, hundreds of protesters turned out, while a couple of thousand people gathered in Toronto’s St. James park, a few blocks from the city’s financial district. (Additional reporting by Catherine Hornby in Rome, Naomi O’Leary and Michael Holden in London, Natalia Drozdiak in Berlin, Alexandria Sage and Gus Trompiz in Paris, Iciar Reinlein, Jonathan Gleave and Carlos Ruano in Madrid, Cameron French in Toronto, Edith Honan and Ed McAllister in New York; Writing by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Angus MacSwan)