Thousands rally against corporate greed

New York/London: Buoyed by worldwide support for `Occupy Wall Street` movement, a wave of protests on Sunday swept across Europe, America and parts of Asia, with thousands of people taking to streets in 950 cities across 80 countries against corporate greed, leading to clashes with police.

Thousands of protesters marched to the iconic Times Square in New York, disrupting traffic on busy Manhattan streets and leading to clashes with police. At least 88 people were arrested, including 24 accused of trespassing in a branch of Citibank and 45 during a raucous rally of thousands of people in and around Times Square.

The month-long `Occupy Wall Street` movement, which was born in New York, has spread across the world, with similar protests being held in 950 cities across 80 countries.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said that after an orderly procession of hundreds of protesters from Zuccotti Park to Washington Square, a smaller group left Washington Square and entered a Citibank branch.

Two police officers were injured in the Times Square confrontation and sent to hospital for treatment, he was quoted as saying CNN.

In London, about 250 protesters, who have erected about 70 tents outside St Paul`s Cathedral, vowed to occupy the site indefinitely, mirroring the New York protest, BBC reported.

In Rome, a peaceful rally turned violent after a group of restive young people clashed with police, which responded with water cannons and tear gas. Dozens of protesters and 26 police officials were injured. Twelve people were arrested. Other than Rome`s, the protests across Europe were largely peaceful, with thousands of people gathering in front of capitalist symbols like the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

Similar scenes unfolded across cities including in Australia`s Sydney; Tokyo; Hong Kong; Toronto; Chicago; and Los Angeles, where several thousand people marched to City Hall as passing drivers honked their support, the New York Times reported.

More than 1,000 people filled Washington Square Park last night, but almost all of them left after dozens of police officers with batons and helmets streamed through the arch and warned that they would be enforcing a midnight curfew, it said, adding 14 were arrested for remaining in the park. The protesters were united in frustration with the widening gap between the rich and the poor, despite difference in language, landscape and scale.

In New York, when police on horseback clashed with demonstrators, they chanted, "We are peaceful protesters" and "The whole world is watching."

In a statement, Citigroup said a large number of protesters entered its branch and were very disruptive, refusing to leave after being repeatedly asked. The bank staff then called 911 emergency service. "They were very disruptive and refused to leave after being repeatedly asked," the Citibank statement said. "The police asked the branch staff to close the branch until the protesters could be removed."

`Occupy Wall Street` is an ongoing series of demonstrations against social and economic inequality, corporate greed and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on government, among other concerns.

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.

The original protests began on May 15 in Spain, which was badly hit by economic crisis.