NEW YORK — Hundreds of people marched near Wall Street in New York in a failed attempt to occupy the heart of global finance to protest greed, corruption and budget cuts.
Plans by protesters to turn Lower Manhattan into an "American Tahrir Square" was thwarted when police on Saturday blocked all the streets near the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan.
The demonstrators had planned to stake out Wall Street until their anger over a financial system they say favors the rich and powerful was heard.
"The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99 Percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the one percent," said a statement on the website Occupy Wall Street.
By noon, about 700 people, many carrying backpacks and sleeping bags, had gathered near Wall Street to search for a place to camp amid a heavy police presence.
That was far less than the 20,000 people that the online magazine Adbusters, which launched the movement in July, had hoped to see "flood" the neighborhood for a months-long occupation.
The protesters who did arrive were full of zeal and righteous indignation.
"This is a protest against corporate greed and we come to Wall Street because Wall Street is the Ground Zero for corporate greed," said Julia River Hitt, a 22-year-old philosophy student.
"We are here just to say we are fed up, we are not gonna take it anymore."
The protesters gathered in Trinity Place, some some 1,000 feet (300 meters) from Wall Street, which they hope to turn into the US version of the famous square in Cairo that became the focal point of protests that led to the ouster of Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak in February.
"No more corruption," read one sign a demonstrator brandished. "Wall St Greed, New Yorkers Say Enough," read another.
"I will sleep here. A lot of us we will sleep here," said Steven Taylor, 24 a protester who arrived equipped with a backpack and a sleeping bag.
Youths shared food and discussed the economic crisis in groups of 15 and 20. Others marched around the square.
Among the group was Javier Dorado, a law professor from Spain who compared the protesters with the mass "indignant" demonstrations in his country against high unemployment, welfare cuts and corruption.
"This is a global phenomenon that is taking place in Europe and many countries," Dorado said.
The protest came as the United States struggles to overcome an economic crisis marked by a huge budget deficit that has triggered cuts in the public service sector while unemployment hovers stubbornly above nine percent.
"There's a war in Libya, there's a war in Afghanistan, there's a war in Iraq and we have cuts in education, social programs," said a masked protester who declined to be identified.
"We know where the money is going! Revolution in America!"
Well, so much for that. Now, let's organize another global financial crisis and make billions!
Needless to say, not the outcome I've been hoping for, but the outcome I've been expecting.
Have a very nice day.