November 17, 2011 / 1:27 AM / 6 years ago

Police arrest San Francisco protesters inside bank

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Police arrested scores of anti-Wall Street protesters in San Francisco on Wednesday after they occupied a Bank of America branch in the city’s financial district.

Demonstrators flooded into the bank during an organized march that began at the protesters’ downtown encampment and ended at a state office building a few blocks away.

The group set up a tent inside the bank branch as more than 100 bystanders watched from outside and police in riot helmets arrested the occupiers one by one, bringing them to a waiting bus.

One protester waved a sign inside that read “make banks pay.” Another held up a sign to a local television station that said they were protesting the link between California’s public higher education system and the banks.

The protesters chanted “we are the 99 percent” as they were taken into custody, alluding to the richest 1 percent of the U.S. population that the activists say control a disproportionate share of the nation’s wealth and power.

Officer Albie Esparza, a police department spokesman, said 95 demonstrators were arrested in connection with Wednesday’s bank protest, most on suspicion of trespassing. He said there were “no claims of injury on either side.”

Earlier during the march, the protesters, who carried American flags and signs and beat on drums, could be seen on a Ustream online video of the scene chanting, “Who do you protect, who do you serve?” at the officers.

One threw a small bunch of flowers at the feet of police.

Additional reporting by Steve Gorman, Dan Whitcomb and Mary Slosson; Writing by Mary Slosson; Editing by Jerry Norton

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