Protests Hit Wall Street; Hundreds Are Arrested : Environment: Demonstrators also gather in San Francisco, complaining that corporations co-opted Earth Day.
More than 250 people were arrested Monday during environmental protests on Wall Street and in the financial district of San Francisco.
At least 11 people, including seven police officers, received minor injuries.
Hundreds of demonstrators converged on the New York Stock Exchange and the Pacific Stock Exchange chanting slogans such as “Wall Street kills,” and complaining that corporations had turned Earth Day into a marketing tool without doing enough to protect the environment.
The demonstrations were organized by a nationwide coalition of environmental organizations, including Earth First!, the Clamshell Alliance and the Youth Greens.
In San Francisco, police at the Pacific Stock Exchange were pelted with rocks, eggs, golf balls and sharpened pieces of metal, San Francisco Police spokesman David Ambrose said.
A scuffle ensued when police tried to make arrests. The windshield of a police car was broken and several people were arrested on charges of assaulting a police officer. The protesters then marched through the financial district, smashing windows at the Bank of America and turning over several news racks.
The New York protest sparked no major violence, although some protesters overturned trash bins. A spokesman for Earth Day Wall Street Action said one protester’s arm was broken, although this could not be confirmed.
Despite the number of protesters, which reached at least 700 in New York and 500 in San Francisco, securities trading was not affected. Groups in both cities had vowed to close the financial centers.
“Except for arriving at work at little early, it was a normal day inside the building,” said Richard S. Torrenzano, senior vice president of the New York Stock Exchange.
Howard Hawkins, a member of Clamshell Alliance and the Left Green Network, said the protests were meant to counter what he called the corporate co-opting of Earth Day, the worldwide environmental celebration held on Sunday. Many corporations helped sponsor events.
“What (corporations) are doing is using the environmental (movement) as a marketing tool,” Hawkins said. “Earth Day missed the boat. The system has got to be changed fundamentally.”
“Any improvements (corporations have) made, they’ve been dragged kicking and screaming,” said Stephen Dunifer, an organizer for Earth Day Action Coalition in San Francisco. “They assume we have infinite resources and we can expand the economy infinitely without regard for the Earth’s limits.”
The protesters said financial institutions share the blame for doing business with corporate polluters. “Wall Street is the symbolic center for an economy based on limitless greed and speculation,” declared a protest pamphlet here.
In San Francisco, 49 demonstrators were arrested and two police officers were treated for minor injuries.
Nine minor injuries, including five to police officers, were reported in New York. Up to 500 police officers on foot, horseback and motorcycle arrested 204 demonstrators.
The demonstrations took on a carnival atmosphere at times as some protesters marched in costumes: a clown, Moses, bears and “mutants” covered with toxic waste or aerosol cans. Walking through the concrete canyons of the Wall Street district, they chanted “corporate greed has to go,” “people over profits” and “Wall Street kills.”
Both actions began at about 6:30 a.m. in their respective time zones.
In San Francisco, the protest kicked off with about 100 people trying to block entrance to the Pacific Stock Exchange. The confrontation turned to violence when some people started throwing objects at police after refusing to disperse.
Several people were arrested after they allegedly tried to prevent police from making arrests and then attempted to free a demonstrator from the police, police spokesman Ambrose said.
Dunifer and other organizers criticized the use of violence by some protesters. The crowd rallied peacefully at Justin Herman Plaza, Ambrose said.
Most of the New York arrests occurred in the morning when protesters staged several sit-ins. Others were taken into custody for blocking traffic on Broadway and Wall Street after a noon rally on the steps of the Federal Hall National Memorial. The demonstration ended by about 4 p.m.