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Home - Top News
October 15, 2011 9:47 AM

Wall Street Protests Spread as Thousands Gather in Europe, Asia

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Protests against widening income disparity took place across western Europe and Asia today as the Occupy Wall Street movement spread around the globe, with about 1,000 converging in London and 5,000 in Frankfurt.

In the U.K. capital, police barred protesters from entering Paternoster Square, home to the London Stock Exchange. In Frankfurt, marchers gathered by the European Central Bank headquarters, firing soap bubbles from toy pistols with plans to camp out, ZDF German television reported.

In the shadow of London's St. Paul's cathedral, protesters waved banners with slogans that read 'No bulls, no bears, just pigs' and 'Bankers are the Real Looters.' Police parked vans in front of the cathedral to block access to the nearby LSE.

'The financial system benefits a handful of banks at the expense of everyday people, the taxpayers,' said Spyro Van Leemnen, a 27-year old public relations agent and a core member of the demonstrators. 'Same people who are responsible for the recession are getting away with massive bonuses. This is fundamentally unfair and undemocratic.'

The Occupy Wall Street rallies started last month in New York's financial district, where people have been staying in Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to protest inequality and advocate higher taxes for the wealthy. The Occupy London Stock Exchange protest drew 3,000, according to Van Leemnen. Police didn't provide a number.

Monopoly and Coffee

Protests sprung up in 50 German cities including Berlin, where 6,000 took to the streets, and numbering 1,500 in Cologne, ZDF said.

In Zurich, about 200 protesters coalesced on Paradeplatz, playing monopoly and sipping free coffee from a stand. The protests were peaceful.

In South Africa, about 80 people gathered at the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, Talk Radio 702 reported. Protests continued in the face of objection from police that the gathering is illegal. More than 100 people gathered in Cape Town's Company Gardens, close to Parliament, to debate the economic and social challenges faced by South Africa, the radio station reported.

In Taiwan, organizers drew several hundred demonstrators, who mostly sat quietly outside the Taipei World Financial Center, known as Taipei 101.

Communist Anthem

Levin Jiang, 22, an English major at Taipei's Fu Jen Catholic University, joined others marching and singing the communist anthem L'Internationale in front of the Hermes watch shop in the mall of what was until last year the world's tallest building.

'I'm angry about the unjust capitalist society,' he said. 'I'm anti-capitalism.'

In Seoul, 600 converged on the city hall after changing the location of protest as police banned the rally today, Yonhap News reported. They urged clamping down on speculative capital, and demanded lower college tuition.

In Hong Kong, about 200 people gathered at the Exchange Square Podium in the city's central shopping and business district, according to Napo Wong, an organizer.

'Hong Kong is heaven for capitalists,' said Lee Chun Wing, 29, a community college social sciences lecturer in Hong Kong. 'Wealth is created by workers and so should be shared with the workers as well. Capitalism is not a just system.'

In Tokyo, where morning rain may have deterred some from joining three planned protests, more than 120 people demanding an end to nuclear power generation marched from Hibiya Park to the offices of Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of a crippled plant that's spewed radiation, causing the evacuation of thousands after Japan's March 11 earthquake.

'Need Not Greed'

In Australia, about 800 people gathered in Sydney's central business district, carrying cardboard banners and chanting 'Human need, not corporate greed.' Protesters will camp indefinitely 'to organize, discuss and build a movement for a different world, not run by the super-rich 1%,' according to a statement on the Occupy Sydney website.

In Manhattan's Zuccotti Park, a confrontation between demonstrators and New York police was avoided yesterday after Brookfield Office Properties Inc., which owns the public space, postponed a scheduled cleaning.

700 Arrests in NY

More than 700 demonstrators in New York have been arrested since the protests began, mostly on disorderly conduct charges. Police reported 14 arrests yesterday for infractions such as sitting in the street and overturning trash bins.

Today, demonstrators in New York plan to gather in Times Square at 5 p.m. local time to participate in a 'global day of action against Wall Street greed,' according to www.occupywallst.org. Other events include a rally against the war in Afghanistan, a student rally in Washington Square Park and a gathering at a local branch of JPMorgan Chase & Co. to close accounts en masse and transfer money to worker-owned banks and credit unions.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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