London joins global ire against corporate greed

London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Saturday joined over 1,000 protestors in London and thousands of others in Rome and elsewhere across the world to protest against deep budget cuts and corporate greed.

Reports from Rome said clashes erupted when riot police intervened after a small group of masked militants attacked property. Police used tear gas and water, and baton-charged the crowd. Millions across Europe have been affected by the chain of events sparked off by economic downturn, huge budget deficits and job losses.

Greece, Spain, Italy and Britain have been particularly affected in recent years. On Saturday protests were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement and Spain`s `Indignants`. The original protest began on May 15 in Spain, which was badly hit by economic crisis.

`The Occupy Wall Street` (OWS) protest began in New York in September. Organisers of the protests said the aim was to "initiate the global change we want". Their website said, "United in one voice, we will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future." In London, demonstrators were pushed back by police as they tried to march from St Paul`s Cathedral to the London Stock Exchange.

Addressing the gathering, Assange said: "One of the reasons why we support what is happening here in Occupy London is because the banking system in London is the recipient of corrupt money". Protestors carried placards reading `Goldman Sachs in the Work of the Devil` and `Strike Back`, but the protests were peaceful. A spokesperson of Scotland Yard said that the protest was largely peaceful, but one person was arrested for assaulting a police officer.

In Germany, thousands of people demonstrated outside the European Central Bank`s Frankfurt headquarters against corporate greed. Protestors carried plycards with slogans, `Smash the Dictatorship of Capitalism` and `Don`t Sell Out Democracy at the ECB`. In Frankfurt, demonstrators were seen putting up erecting tents in what seemed like a plan to emulate the protest camps in New York. Hundreds of protesters also rallyed in Berlin, Cologne and Munich.

There was protest marches in the Austrian capital Vienna, while protesters in Zurich, Switzerland`s financial hub, carried banners reading "We won`t bail you out yet again" and "We are the 99 percent." Shouting slogans like "criminal bankers caused this crisis!", thousands of people took out a rally in Brussels and threw old shoes at the stock exchange building. A peaceful rally was held in Helsinki by some 300 activists.Marches were also held in Madrid`s Puerta del Sol plaza and elsewhere in Spain to protest against deep budget cuts and corporate greed.