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About 175 protesters who were part of a growing anti-Wall Street sentiment were arrested in Chicago early Sunday when they refused to take down their tents and leave a city park when it closed, police said, after a day of protests in cities around the world where thousands gathered to rally against what they see as corporate greed.
The arrests were mostly peaceful and came as somewhat of a contrast to many demonstrators elsewhere, who have taken care to follow laws in order to continue protesting Wall Street's role in the financial crisis and other grievances. Most of the marches were largely nonconfrontational, though dozens were arrested in New York and elsewhere in the U.S. when police moved to contain overflowing crowds or keep them off private property. Two officers in New York were injured and had to be hospitalized.
At least one protest grew violent. In Rome, rioters hijacked what had been a peaceful gathering and smashed windows, tore up sidewalks and torched vehicles. Repair costs were estimated at $1.4 million, the mayor said Sunday.
In Chicago, about 500 people had set up camp at the entrance to Grant Park on Saturday evening after a protest earlier in the day involving about 2,000, the Chicago Tribune reported. Police said they gave protesters repeated warnings after the park closed at 11 p.m. and began making arrests when they refused to leave.
Officers also asked protesters to take down their tents before beginning to cut them down to clear the area, police said. Protesters who were arrested would be released after background checks were done to make sure they didn't have any outstanding arrest warrants, police said. They could face fines for violating a municipal ordinance.
The arrests signify a new phase of civil disobedience for Chicago's wing of the movement, organizers said Sunday.
"It was very much a choice and calculated," said Randy Powell, a 27-year-old student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago who was arrested. "I feel like I had to."
The tactic to occupy a city park has been used in other places with city officials often working to accommodate them. For example, protesters in Iowa reached a deal with Des Moines' mayor to move from the state Capitol to a city park, avoiding arrests. Plans to temporarily evict New York protesters from a park so the grounds could be power-washed were postponed at the request of political leaders Friday.
But Chicago protesters said they've come up short. Some organizers said conversations with city officials weren't encouraging, but they also have yet to apply for permits. A message left Sunday for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's office wasn't immediately returned.
In New York, two dozen were arrested Saturday when demonstrators entered a Citibank branch and refused to leave, police said. They asked the branch to close until the protesters could be taken away.
Earlier, as many as 1,000 demonstrators also paraded to a Chase bank branch, banging drums, blowing horns and carrying signs decrying corporate greed. A few went inside the bank to close their accounts, but the group didn't stop other customers from getting inside or seek to blockade the business.
Lily Paulina of Brooklyn said she was taking her money out because she was upset that JPMorgan Chase was making billions of dollars, while its customers struggled with bank fees and home foreclosures.
"Chase bank is making tons of money off of everyone ... while people in the working class are fighting just to keep a living wage in their neighborhood," the 29-year-old United Auto Workers organizer said.
Police told the marchers to stay on the sidewalk, and the demonstration seemed fairly orderly as it wound through downtown streets.
The day culminated in an event in the city's Times Square, where thousands of demonstrators mixed with gawkers, Broadway showgoers, tourists and police to create a chaotic scene in the midst of Manhattan.
"Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" protesters chanted from within police barricades. Police, some in riot gear and mounted on horses, tried to push them out of the square and onto the sidewalks in an attempt to funnel the crowds away.
This program aired on October 16, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.
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