Thousands of 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters today took to the streets here, as the three-week old demonstrations against corporate America's greed and high unemployment got a major fillip with nearly 40 labour unions throwing their weight behind it.
Drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring movement, the protests dubbed as 'American Fall', started on September 17 and have been growing in force with each passing day.
Thousands of demonstrators, waving American flags, carrying banners decrying corporate greed and demanding equality, marched from the city's Zuccotti Park to Foley Square near City Hall.
The march of the '99 per cent against the top one per cent' was by far the biggest gathering of protesters.
About 40 labour unions, including those of transportation workers, nurses and teachers, have extended their support to the movement.
The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Communications Workers of America, Amalgamated Transit Union and National Nurses United are among the leading labour unions jumping in the fray and voicing their discontent with the hefty bonuses of Wall Street chief executives, government bailouts and high unemployment.
Labour union 'Teachers Unite' said union workers and community members impacted by the economic crisis have been demanding that Wall Street and the wealthiest New Yorkers pay their fair share of taxes.
It urged its members to join the march to Wall Street to show solidarity with the movement and "show the faces of New Yorkers hardest hit by corporate greed."
Students at universities across the country also walked out from their classes in solidarity with the protesters.
"We stand in solidarity with those protesting Wall Street's greed. The economy that has wrecked so many lives, obliterated jobs, and left millions of Americans homeless and hopeless is the fault of banks that gamble with our future," American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union president Gerald McEntee said in a statement.
Protesters carried signs that read 'Heal America', 'Billionaires, your time is up', 'Corporations are not people,' 'Tax Wall Street' and 'Make Jobs Not Cuts.'
Stefen Baley, a protester, said people have been coming from all across the city and the country to take part in the protests. "Our infrastructure is collapsing due to the flawed financial system. We need the rest of America to listen to us, to wake up and realiae that this has been going on for a long time. The perpetrators of the financial mess have to held accountable."
Jamie Woodbridge, organiser of an outreach programme, said a supporter from as far as Tahrir Square had come up to her and asked how the two can exchange information "so that people back home can know we are part of a global contact."
She said the people are in the movement together and they have to join forces to "bring this country back on its feet."
"Why should just a handful of people have everything," she said, sounding visibly agitated. She said that the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement has brought together "people who had never before protested against anything in their lives."
Meanwhile, hacker group 'Anonymous' said it will support the protests by hacking into the New York Stock Exchange and erasing it "from the Internet" on October 10.
In a brief YouTube message, Anonymous said they are attacking the world's largest stock exchange in retaliation to the arrests of over 700 protesters last weekend.
Occupy Wall Street: Thousands of Protesters on Streets
Yoshita Singh/New York
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