NEW YORK (AP) -- Protests against Wall Street spread across the country Monday as demonstrators marched on Federal Reserve banks and camped out in parks from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine, in a show of anger over the wobbly economy and what they see as corporate greed.
Protesters from Occupy Wall Street march down Broadway dressed as corporate zombies Monday in New York. The protests have gathered momentum and gained participants in recent days as news of mass arrests and a coordinated media campaign by the protestors have given rise to similar demonstrations around the country. (AP-Yonhap News)
In Manhattan, hundreds of protesters dressed as corporate zombies in white face paint lurched past the New York Stock Exchange clutching fistfuls of fake money. In Chicago, demonstrators pounded drums in the city's financial district. Others pitched tents or waved protest signs at passing cars in Boston, St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri.
The arrests of 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge over the weekend galvanized a slice of discontented America, from college students worried about their job prospects to middle-age workers who have been recently laid off.
Some protesters likened themselves to the tea party movement _ but with a liberal bent _ or to the Arab Spring demonstrators who brought down their rulers in the Middle East.
``I've felt this way for a long time. I've really just kind of been waiting for a movement to come along that I thought would last and have some resonation within the community,'' said Steven Harris, a laid-off truck driver in Kansas City.
Harris and about 20 other people were camped out in a park across the street from the Kansas City Federal Reserve building, their site strewn with sleeping bags, clothes and handmade signs. Some passing drivers honked in support.
The Occupy Wall Street protests started on Sept. 17 with a few dozen demonstrators who tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Since then, hundreds have set up camp in a park nearby and have become increasingly organized, lining up medical aid and legal help and printing their own newspaper, the Occupied Wall Street Journal.
About 100 demonstrators were arrested on Sept. 24 and some were pepper-sprayed. On Saturday police arrested 700 on charges of disorderly conduct and blocking a public street as they tried to march over the Brooklyn Bridge. Police said they took five more protesters into custody on Monday, though it was unclear whether they had been charged with any crime.
Wiljago Cook, of Oakland, California, who joined the New York protest on the first day, said she was shocked by the arrests.
``Exposing police brutality wasn't even really on my agenda, but my eyes have been opened,'' she said. She vowed to stay in New York ``as long as it seems useful.''
City bus drivers sued the New York Police Department on Monday for commandeering their buses and making them drive to the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday to pick up detained protesters.
``We're down with these protesters. We support the notion that rich folk are not paying their fair share,'' said Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen. ``Our bus operators are not going to be pressed into service to arrest protesters anywhere.''
The city's Law Department said the NYPD's actions were proper.
On Monday, the zombies stayed on the sidewalks as they wound through Manhattan's financial district chanting, ``How to fix the deficit: End the war, tax the rich!'' They lurched along with their arms in front of them. Some yelled, ``I smell money!''
Reaction was mixed from passers-by.
Roland Klingman, who works in the financial industry and was wearing a suit as he walked through a raucous crowd of protesters, said he could sympathize with the anti-Wall Street message.
``I don't think it's directed personally at everyone who works down here,'' Klingman said. ``If they believe everyone down here contributes to policy decisions, it's a serious misunderstanding.''
Another man in a suit yelled at the protesters, ``Go back to work!'' He declined to be interviewed.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who made his fortune as a corporate executive, has said the demonstrators are making a mistake by targeting Wall Street.
``The protesters are protesting against people who make $40- or $50,000 a year and are struggling to make ends meet. That's the bottom line. Those are the people who work on Wall Street or in the finance sector,'' Bloomberg said in a radio interview Friday.
Some protesters planned to travel to other cities to organize similar events.
John Hildebrand, a protester in New York from Oklahoma, hoped to mount a protest there after returning home Tuesday. Julie Levine, a protester in Los Angeles, planned to go to Washington on Thursday.
Websites and Facebook pages with names like Occupy Boston and Occupy Philadelphia have also sprung up to plan the demonstrations.
Hundreds of demonstrators marched from a tent city on a grassy plot in downtown Boston to the Statehouse to call for an end of corporate influence of government.
``Our beautiful system of American checks and balances has been thoroughly trashed by the influence of banks and big finance that have made it impossible for the people to speak,'' said protester Marisa Engerstrom, of Somerville, Mass., a Harvard doctoral student.
The Boston demonstrators decorated their tents with hand-written signs reading, ``Fight the rich, not their wars'' and ``Human need, not corporate greed.''
Some stood on the sidewalk holding up signs, engaging in debate with passers-by and waving at honking cars. One man yelled ``Go home!'' from his truck. Another man made an obscene gesture.
``We lean left, but there have been tea party people stopping by here who have said, `Hey, we like what you're doing,''' said Jason Potteiger, a media coordinator for the Boston protesters.
In Chicago, protesters beat drums on the corner near the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. In Los Angeles, demonstrators hoping to get TV coverage gathered in front of the courthouse where Michael Jackson's doctor is on trial on manslaughter charges.
Protesters in St. Louis stood on a street corner a few blocks from the shimmering Gateway Arch, carrying signs that read, ``How Did The Cat Get So Fat?,'' ``You're a Pawn in Their Game'' and ``We Want The Sacks Of Gold Goldman Sachs Stole From Us.''
``Money talks, and it seems like money has all the power,'' said Apollonia Childs. ``I don't want to see any homeless people on the streets, and I don't want to see a veteran or elderly people struggle. We all should have our fair share. We all vote, pay taxes. Tax the rich.''
월가 시위, 美 새 국민운동 씨앗될까
미국 전역은 물론 캐나다로까지 확산하고 있는 월스트리트 시위의 참가자들은 새로운 국민운동의 출범을 꿈꾸지만 분명한 목표를 제시하지 못하고 있다고 워싱턴포스트(WP) 인터넷판이 4일 진단했다.
중동과 북아프리카를 휩쓴 `아랍의 봄'에서 영감을 받은 미국 젊은이들이 시작 한 월가 시위는 3주째 이어지는 동안 보스턴, 로스앤젤레스, 시카고 등지에서 유사 한 집회를 이끌어 내며 동력을 키워가는 모양새다.
수도 워싱턴 D.C.의 프리덤 플라자에서도 6일(현지시간) 행진이 있을 예정이다.
노스캐롤라이나와 미네소타, 위스콘신 등지에서 온 20대 청년, 무정부주의자,
반(反) 세계화 운동가, 노조원 등 다양한 참가자들로 구색을 갖춘 시위대는 이제 단 발성이 아닌 영속적 국민운동의 씨앗을 뿌릴 수 있기를 희망하고 있다.
그러나 이들에게는 분명한 `목표'가 결여돼 있다고 신문은 지적했다.
이들은 일반인을 일자리 대신 빚더미로 내모는 미국의 현 상황을 월가가 대표하 는 자본가들의 탐욕 탓으로 돌리며 불만을 토해내는 것 이상의 공동 목표를 명확히 제시하지 못하고 있다는 것이다.
뉴욕시에서 증기파이프 시설공으로 일하고 있는 크리스토퍼 딜머 씨는 "시위대 가 원하는 바가 무엇인지 모르겠다"면서 "다들 각기 다른 무언가를 원하는 것처럼 보였다"고 말했다. 딜머 씨는 이어 "사람들이 일자리를 원하면 원하는 일은 아닐지 언정 일을 찾을 수 있다"고 지적했다.
시위에 적극적으로 참가하는 위스콘신주 매디슨 출신 정치 활동가 아서 콜 리그
스(23) 씨도 "우리의 메시지와 요구사항에 일관성이 결여됐다는 점에 비판이 집중되 고 있다"고 인정했다.
그러나 그는 "비판자들은 정치 엘리트들에 의해 통제되지 않는 직접 민주주의 운동을 형성하는 가치를 이해하지 못한다"며 이번 시위가 그 자체로도 중요한 의미 가 있다고 강변했다.
지난달 17일 `월가 점령'을 기치로 내건 1천명이 불을 지핀 이번 시위는 일주일 후인 지난달 24일 뉴욕경찰이 최루액, 그물, 수갑 등을 동원한 강제 진압에 나서면 서 오히려 급격히 동력을 얻었다.
경찰의 강경 진압 장면이 담긴 동영상이 인터넷을 통해 확산되면서 미국 각지에 서 동조자들이 급증했고, 영화배우 수전 서랜든, 영화감독 마이클 무어, 헤지펀드의 제왕 조지 소로스 등 명사들의 지지 표명도 잇따르고 있다. (연합뉴스)