10:29am

Sat October 15, 2011
World

Occupy Wall Street Inspires Worldwide Protests

Taking a cue from the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, protesters across the world took to the streets Saturday to demonstrate against what they say is corporate greed, the banks and government austerity cuts.

Organizers of the global protests say there will be demonstrations in 951 cities in 82 countries. On their website, the organizers say they're demanding change and to let politicians and the financial elite know it's up to the people to decide the future.

As many as 1,000 protesters were marching Saturday morning to a Chase bank branch in New York's financial district, banging drums, blowing horns and carrying signs decrying corporate greed.

Some say they are angry about the role that banks played in the financial crisis.

A few protesters went inside the bank to close their accounts, but they didn't stop other customers from getting inside or seek to block the business.

Police told the marchers to stay on the sidewalk, but the demonstration appeared to be fairly orderly as it wound through downtown streets.

In London, one of the financial capitals of the world, hundreds of people gathered on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral, close to the financial district. They waved banners spelling out their message: "Bankers are the real looters"; "Beware, people are coming out of their comas."

Speaking to the BBC, Naomi Colvin, an organizer of Occupy the London Stock Exchange, explained why she is protesting: "We are concerned about the role the financial services industry plays in this country and the relationship between the financial services industry and government."

In Toronto, hundreds of demonstrators converged near the Toronto Stock Exchange and the headquarters of some of Canada's major banks to decry what they say is government-abetted corporate greed that has served the elites at the expense of the majority of people.

The Toronto demonstrators are marching to St. James Park in the east-central end of the city, where they plan to camp for at least the next few days.

Across the globe in Sydney, more than 500 demonstrators set up camp in Martin Place in the central business district.

"We're not just talking about a change of government," Josh Lees, one of the group's organizers, said. "I think what everyone here is talking about is a change in the entire way our system works. Our entire way that money dominates all of our political lives, the big corporations — the 1 percent who we're talking about — the mining companies, the banks and so on who dominate our entire political establishment, too. Both major parties in Australia are effectively just servants of capital, big money, and everything like that."

NPR's Philip Reeves and Larry Miller reported from London, and Stuart Cohen reported from Sydney for this report, which contains material from The Associated Press.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.