NEW YORK (Reuters) - Several hundred marchers wound their way through the streets of lower Manhattan on Saturday in the latest of a string of protests over the past week against what demonstrators saw as corporate greed on Wall Street.
Police said at least 80 protesters were arrested during the march, which was meant to criticize a financial system participants said unfairly benefits corporations and the rich. They said the protests were inspired by demonstrations in Egypt and Spain.
Most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct by people who blocked vehicle and pedestrian traffic during an hours-long march that wound north from the financial district into the bustling Union Square area. One marcher was charged with assaulting a police officer, police said.
The marchers carried signs spelling out their goals. “Tax the rich,” one placard said. “We Want Money for Healthcare not Corporate Welfare,” read another.
The demonstrators were mostly college-aged marchers carrying American flags and signs with anti-corporate slogans. Some beat drums, blew horns and chanted slogans as uniformed officers surrounded and videotaped them.
“Occupy Wall Street,” they chanted, “all day, all week.”
Organizers fell short of that goal. With metal barricades and swarms of police officers in front of the New York Stock Exchange, the closest protesters could get was Liberty Street, about three blocks away.
The first arrest came shortly after noon near the stock exchange. Several blocks away, another protester, who identified himself as Robert Stephens, was arrested after kneeling in the middle of the street outside the Chase Bank building.
“That’s the bank that took my mother’s home,” said Stephens, a law student, before being handcuffed.
The Vancouver-based activist media group Adbusters organized the weeklong event. Word spread via social media, yet the throngs of protesters some participants had hoped for failed to show up.
“I was kind of disappointed with the turnout,” said Itamar Lilienthal, 19, a New York University student and marcher.
The protest appeared smaller than a “Day of Rage” a week ago that turned out to be largely peaceful.
Tourists along the march stopped to snap photos, and some acknowledged the demonstrators with waves and peace signs but few joined the protest.
Laurie Hull, who was visiting New York with her husband from Oregon, stopped to watch and said the couple empathized with the marchers after filing for bankruptcy and living without health insurance.
Editing by Lauren Keiper, Cynthia Johnston and Alex Dobuzinskis