Socialist Worker

Hundreds of thousands occupy globally against injustice

by our reporters in New York and London
Published Sat 15 Oct 2011
Issue No. 2273

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in hundreds of cities across the world today, Saturday.

They were united by a sense that something is seriously wrong with the economic system we live in – and a desire to change it.

From Korea to Australia, from Japan to Canada, from Taiwan to south Africa, people protested.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, that began in New York in the US last month, inspired today’s international day of action. Its slogan, that has been taken up worldwide, is, “We are the 99 percent”.

Protesters feel that the vast majority, the 99 percent, are paying for the obscene wealth of a tiny minority – and they have had enough.

A huge protest took place in Rome, where police responded with tear gas and water cannon.

In Berlin protesters chanted, “We are the 99 percent” and “Abolish capitalism”. Demonstrators in Tokyo added anti-nuclear slogans to the anti-capitalist ones.

Hundreds protested in Hong Kong. Wong Weng-chi, a demonstrator, said one reason for protesting was that Hong Kong acted as “a base that serves many capitalists and the upper class”.

And in Spain, where the indignatos [indignant] movement has inspired people across the globe, protests took place in tens of cities across the country.

The demands of the 1,000 protests that took place today aren’t always clear. But what is clear is that they have tapped into a deep well of frustration and anger – and have the potential to spur more resistance.


Anindya Bhattacharyya at Occupy Wall Street, New York, reports

Today’s protest started with a march round New York's financial district organised by the Occupy Wall Street’s labour outreach committee.

Protesters chanted, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out” and “End the war, tax the rich – how to solve the deficit”.

Chase Manhattan bank was a particular target because of its leading role in mortgage foreclosures on US homes. The bank received a bailout of $94.7 billion in public funds – then laid off 14,000 workers.

Meanwhile hundreds of student supporters of the occupation movement assembled at Washington Square Park. They discussed plans to stage flash occupations of banks in the area.

Earlier in the day, protesters at the occupation site were dressing up as “bankers” in second-hand jackets and ties.

Protesters queued up by rails of clothes to be measured up by “tailors” and handed their costumes.

There will be further actions and protests in New York throughout today as part of the global day of action against inequality and corporate greed.


Siân Ruddick and Dave Sewell report from London

More than 3,000 people protested in the City of London today against the greed of the banking system.

Demonstrators maintained a protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral, where many have now set up tents and intend to stay “as long as possible”. Police and security prevented them from reaching London’s Stock Exchange.

Protesters chanted, “We are the 99 percent” and “Whose streets? Our streets!”

Emily has just graduated from Goldsmiths college. She told Socialist Worker, “After years of studying I'm unemployed and feeling pretty desperate.

“It’s a huge injustice that the banks have been bailed out and we're all left to stress and struggle. I am scared about my future, but it’s not inevitably going to be bad. We can make a big difference.”

Becky and Dani travelled up from Portsmouth. Becky told Socialist Worker, “I'll tell you what I'm angry about. I’m training to be a teacher, but they’re making us pay more into our pensions, get less out and work longer.

“It’s ridiculous that they want us to teach kids when we’re 66. The banks got the government in debt, but we're expected to work longer and harder to pay it back.”

Dani added, “The government is just a front for the rich now, it doesn’t work for the people. There's a lot of fear – the government has done that deliberately – so we need things like this to show people that there's enough of us to fight back.

“You sometimes feel like the only one who thinks these things, then you come out here and see there’s thousands of us.”

More people tried to join the protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral but the police at times kettled the protest, allowing small numbers and sometimes no one in or out.

A people’s assembly took place on the steps of the cathedral, where activists discussed ideas and where next. The assembly then broke into working groups that discussed specifics like food, shelter and communications.

Some people brought sleeping bags and tents. Police say they want to clear the area but hundreds of protesters remain.

As protester Samir said, “We're fed up of economic inequalities, lack of democracy and lack of justice. We need to flush this whole social and economic system down the toilet and replace it with something that benefits the 99 percent.”


Article information

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Sat 15 Oct 2011, 20:06 BST
Issue No. 2273
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