Occupy Goes Worldwide on May Day

Group plans protests and marches against financial institutions

An Occupy Wall Street protester in September 2011. (Photo: Joyce Hanson) An Occupy Wall Street protester in September 2011. (Photo: Joyce Hanson)

On May Day protesters from the Occupy group planned demonstrations across the world, chiefly against financial institutions.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the group, while it also planned to advocate for other causes, was mainly targeting financial policies and what it called abuses of power and wealth. Websites in numerous cities from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur advocate general strikes, although in Sydney there was a march against coal seam gas developers.

Reuters reported that unions across Europe protested austerity measures in advance of French and Greek elections, with Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and France all seeing marches against policies that, aimed at driving down sovereign debt, have resulted in widespread unemployment and cuts in pensions and benefits.

Lisbon expected tens of thousands of demonstrators from the country’s two largest unions to come out in force there and in other cities. In Greece, police were preparing in case protests turned violent, as they have in a number of instances. About 5,000 marchers—workers, pensioners and students—carried banners advocating taxation of the wealthy as they headed for Parliament.

In the U.S., Occupy demonstrators were expected to march from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and blockade banks in New York and picket the Golden Gate Bridge and ferry terminals in California, where morning ferry service in San Francisco was canceled. Marches against banks and demonstrations in support of unions were also planned on both coasts and in between, in a total of 115 U.S. cities.

Banks in New York faced other problems on Monday, as six envelopes of white powder were delivered to bank branches. Wells Fargo shut down five branches, although all envelopes contained nonhazardous substances; in one case the white powder was identified as cornstarch. The envelopes contained notes saying, “Happy May Day.”

This comes on the heels of shareholder protests and votes against bank compensation at shareholder meetings; last week Wells Fargo saw some 500 demonstrators protesting at its annual meeting.

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