Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Protest army sees support growing

Occupy Wall Street protesters fill Times Square as part of rallies across the world (AP)
Occupy Wall Street protesters fill Times Square as part of rallies across the world (AP)
A protester waves an anarchist flag in front of a police water canon after the 'March of the outraged' in Santiago, Chile (AP)
A demonstrator holds a Puerto Rican flag during the Occupy Puerto Rico protest in San Juan, Puerto Rico (AP)

The month-old Occupy Wall Street campaign has gained new momentum, with cash donations rolling in and the drawing of global attention to what it sees as major economic inequalities.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed sympathy with the protesters, and even protest-averse China said some issues raised are worth considering.

From a few dozen people camping out in a small Manhattan park near the rising World Trade Centre complex, the movement swelled to hundreds of thousands of people rallying around the world this weekend and numerous encampments springing up in cities large and small.

Hundreds of protesters mingled with bemused bank workers in a new tent camp outside St. Paul's Cathedral in London. But in Seattle, police arrested people who would not move their tents from a park.

The UN leader said the finance chiefs from the Group of 20 rich and developing nations, now meeting in Paris, should listen to the demonstrators. "Business as usual, or just looking at their own internal economic issues, will not give any answers to a very serious international economic crisis," Mr Ban said.

"That is what you are seeing all around the world, starting from Wall Street, people are showing their frustrations, are trying to send a very clear and unambiguous message around the world."

The Wall Street protesters still have not settled on a specific demand but are intent on building on momentum gained from Saturday's worldwide demonstrations, which drew hundreds of thousands of people, mostly in the US and Europe.

Interest in the demonstrations over economic inequality even reached China, where online calls for similar protests did not appear to elicit any responses. "We feel that there are issues here that are worth pondering," said a foreign ministry spokesman.

In New York, nearly 300,000 dollars (£190,000) in cash has been donated through the movement's website and by visitors to the park.

Donated goods range from blankets and sleeping bags to cans of food and medical and hygienic supplies. Among the items are 20 pairs of swimming goggles, to shield protesters from pepper-spray attacks. Supporters are sending about 300 boxes a day, many with notes and letters, said Justin Strekal, a college student and political organiser who travelled from Cleveland to New York to help.

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