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Global march against greed

Fed-up citizens from Tokyo to Tucson take to the streets to protest inequities of the financial system.

October 16, 2011|Janet Stobart and John M. Glionna
  • Protesters outside St. Paul's Cathedral in London are hedged in by police during a march against corporate greed.
Protesters outside St. Paul's Cathedral in London are hedged in by… (Dan Kitwood, Getty Images )

LONDON AND SEOUL — The protests against corporate greed born last month on New York's Wall Street spread across the world Saturday, with fed-up demonstrators staging marches in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

In London, a crowd of placard-waving protesters, watched by scores of vigilant police, gathered on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral, and then moved toward the London Stock Exchange building nearby.

"We are here in solidarity with those protesting in the United States," said Sean Murray, an engineering student at the University of London. "The problems we face are exactly the same: a system in which a financial crisis was caused by bankers and people who make money, and people who don't make money have to pay for it."

The principal organizer of the protest was the anti-austerity movement UK Uncut, but several other groups joined the throng calling for a clampdown on bonuses given bankers and more vigilance about and penalties for high-income tax dodgers.

Anti-austerity movements have mushroomed throughout Europe as more public-sector workers fight their governments' programs to cut their jobs, salaries and pensions.

On Saturday, protesters took to the streets of other European capitals, including Rome, Madrid and Athens. In Rome, police fired tear gas as protesters smashed shop windows and set cars on fire.

In Sydney, Australia, hundreds of activists chanted anti-big-business slogans in front of the nation's central bank headquarters, with some holding up banners reading, "You can't eat money." Protesters declared that the events were "only the start," according to Australian news reports.

About 600 people joined rallies in Tokyo, marching on the headquarters of Tepco, the utility that owns the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which suffered a major meltdown after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. In Seoul, members of 30 civic groups banded together to protest the "super-wealthy" with demonstrations across the South Korean capital.

In the United States, protests continued in New York, where about 1,000 protesters marched to a Chase bank branch, a few going inside to close their accounts. About 24 people were later arrested at a Citibank branch near Washington Square Park after refusing to leave the bank, authorities said.

In Washington, about 200 protesters gathered in front of the white columns of the Treasury Department headquarters shouting, "Poverty stinks, tax the banks!"

Miles Drake, 60, a delivery truck driver from Upper Marlboro, Md., traveled an hour to join the Washington protests. "I've been outraged for a decade," Drake said. "I see the inequality in the social structure."

New protests sprang up in Tucson and in Orlando, Fla., with hundreds marching through downtown streets in each of the cities.

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john.glionna@latimes.com

Stobart is a news assistant in The Times' London bureau. Times staff writer Brian Bennett in Washington contributed to this report.

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