NEW YORK – Protests against corporate greed and economic inequality spread across America on Thursday and found unlikely sympathy from a top official of one of main targets of scorn — the Federal Reserve, according to Reuters.
The Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York last month with a few people has expanded to protests in more than a dozen cities.
They included Tampa, Florida; Trenton and Jersey City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Norfolk, Virginia in the East; to Chicago and St. Louis in the Midwest; Houston, San Antonio and Austin in Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Portland, Oregon, Seattle and Los Angeles in the West.
Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher surprised a business group in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday when he said: “I am somewhat sympathetic — that will shock you.
The Fed played a key role in one of the protest targets, the 2008 Wall Street bailout that critics say let banks enjoy huge profits while average Americans suffered high unemployment and job insecurity.
“We have too many people out of work,” Fisher said. “We have a very uneven distribution of income. … We have a very frustrated people, and I can understand their frustration.”
In addition to the bailout, protesters have raged against corporate greed and influence over American life, the gap between rich and poor, and hapless, corrupt politicians.
“I’m fed up with the government, I’m fed up with the bailouts. If I fail at my job, I don’t get a bonus — I get fired,” said Tim Lucas, 49, vice president of a software company, who was protesting in Austin.
Hundreds of people have been arrested in New York since the protests began last month. On Wednesday, the biggest crowd so far of about 5,000 people marched on New York’s financial district, and police used pepper spray on some protesters. But protests for the most part have been nonviolent.
On Thursday, a few hundred protesters milled about a park nearWall Street where they have set up camp, but there were no immediate plans for another march.
With support from labor unions boosting the protesters’ ranks, organizers predicted momentum would continue to build.
“This is the beginning,” said John Preston in Philadelphia, business manager for Teamsters Local 929. “Teamsters will support the movement city to city.”