Revolt in Rome:

Across the world, the indignant rise up against corporate greed and cuts

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Violence mars Rome protest, but in scores more cities tens of thousands take peacefully to the streets

Protests against corporate greed, executive excess and public austerity began to gel into the beginnings of a worldwide movement yesterday as tens of thousands marched in scores of cities. The "Occupy Wall Street" protest, which started in Canada and spread to the US, and the long-running Spanish "Indignant" and Greek anti-cuts demonstrations coalesced on a day that saw marches or occupations in 82 countries.

Some protests were small, as in Tokyo, where only 200 turned up; some were large, as in Spain, where around 60 separate demonstrations were staged; and some were muted, as in London, where nearly 2,000 intending to march on the Stock Exchange obeyed police who turned them back. As dusk fell, some 500 of them were kettled in St Paul's churchyard.

Containment tactics were also used by police in New York last night as thousands of demonstrators were penned behind barricades in Times Square. They had marched through Manhattan and protested outside the city's banks, withdrawing their money as they did.

Only one of the protests, in Rome, was violent. Here, among an estimated 100,000 protesters, were a few who broke away and hurled bottles, smashed shop windows, torched cars and attacked news crews. There were reports that the defence ministry had been partly trashed. Most of the disorder took place near the Colosseum, and police charged the protesters and fired water cannon. Some demonstrators fled, but others turned against the troublemakers, trying, with limited success, to stop them. Italy, with a national debt ratio second only to Greece's in the 17-nation eurozone, is rapidly becoming a focus of concern in Europe's debt crisis. But even in Germany – part of the solution to the crisis rather than the problem – around 4,000 people marched through the streets of Berlin with banners that urged the end of capitalism. Some scuffled with police as they tried to get near the country's parliamentary buildings. In Frankfurt, continental Europe's financial capital, some 5,000 people protested in front of the European Central Bank.

In Spain, six marches were set to converge on Madrid's Puerta del Sol plaza just before dusk yesterday. This is the country where, in May, groups which became known as the Indignant Movement established the first around-the-clock protest camps that lasted for weeks in cities and towns. Portuguese angry at their government's handling of the economic crisis were due to protest in central Lisbon later yesterday evening. Portugal is one of three European nations – the others being Greece and Ireland – that have already needed an international bailout.

In Stockholm, 500 people gathered to hear speakers denounce capitalism at a peaceful rally. They held up red flags and banners that read: "We are the 99 per cent" and "We refuse to pay for capitalism's crisis". The reference was to the world's richest 1 per cent, who control billions in assets, while billions around the world live in poverty or are struggling economically. Bilbo Goransson, a trade union activist, declared through a megaphone: "There are those who say the system is broke. It's not. That's how it was built. It is there to make rich people richer."

Anti-banking protests outside St Paul's cathedral yesterday drew a crowd of around 2,000. The "Occupy London" protesters gathered with the intention of taking over the plaza in front of the London Stock Exchange but were turned back at Temple Bar by mounted police. The crowds returned to St Paul's churchyard where WikiLeaks' Julian Assange spoke briefly.

The singer Billy Bragg was also in the crowd. "Today is about accountability," he said. "People want to see a change in the way things are done." He believed yesterday's protest represented a shift in the way the public views demonstrations. "I think the attitude coming out of protests here and on Wall Street has been incredibly positive," he said. "It's a desire to build, rather than smash things up."

In Canada, hundreds gathered in Toronto's financial district to decry what they said was government-abetted corporate greed which has served elites at the expense of the majority. Further protests were planned yesterday for other Canadian cities, while, in the US, marches were scheduled in cities large and small, from Providence, Rhode Island, to Little Rock, Arkansas; from New York to Seattle. In the Bosnian city of Sarajevo, there was a different tone: hundreds walked through the streets carrying pictures of Che Guevara, old communist flags and placards that read: "Death to capitalism, freedom to the people".

Turnout was light in Asia, where the global economy is booming. In Sydney, around 300 people gathered, cheering a speaker who shouted: "We're sick of corporate greed! Big banks, big corporate power standing over us and taking away our rights!" Only 200 people protested in Tokyo; and in the Philippines, about 100 people marched on the US embassy in Manila to express support for the Wall Street protests.

A group of 100 prominent authors, including Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman and the Pulitzer prize-winning novelists Jennifer Egan and Michael Cunningham, signed an online petition declaring their support for "Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world". And there were stinging words yesterday in The New York Times' leading article for David Cameron and George Osborne. It began: "For now, Britain's economy has been stuck in a vicious cycle of low growth, high unemployment and fiscal austerity. But unlike Greece, which has been forced into induced recession by misguided European Union creditors, Britain has inflicted this harmful quack cure on itself."

It ended: "Austerity is a political ideology masquerading as an economic policy. It rests on a myth, impervious to facts, that portrays all government spending as wasteful and harmful, and unnecessary to the recovery. The real world is a lot more complicated. America has no need to repeat Mr Cameron's failed experiment."

Several years after the Western financial crisis began, and with growing momentum it seems, new dividing lines – if not battle lines – are being drawn up.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Steven Fletcher scores the second goal for Scotland
cricketBut they have to bounce back to beat Gibraltar in Euro 2016 qualifier
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing