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Video: From Wall Street to the world

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    LESTER HOLT, anchor: The chorus of protests over big money and hard times reverberated around the world today as tens of thousands took to the streets from across the US to Europe and all the way to Johannesburg , railing against banks, corporate profits, and the wealthy. But it was in Rome that things turned violent with reports of at least 70 injured, cars set afire, and banks fire bombed. This day of global outrage was born of the nonviolent Occupy Wall Street movement that started here in New York . But it has easily found traction in parts of the world where folks are already simmering under the collar from harsh economic austerity measures. Collectively, their anger is clear, their specific demands less so. But, nonetheless, they've got the world's attention. NBC 's Keir Simmons leads off our coverage from London tonight .

    KEIR SIMMONS reporting: This was the day protests on Wall Street went worldwide and, in places, turned violent. In Rome , some protesters interrupted a peaceful demonstration to smash bank windows and set fires. There were running battles with water cannons and tear gas. Reports say 20 were injured, protesters and police, after 100,000 had been expected for a demonstration inspired by events in America and fueled by anger at government cuts. In London , protesters were prevented from getting close to the stock exchange. There were five arrests, though the day was largely peaceful.

    Crowd: Shame on you ! Shame on you !

    Unidentified Man #1: It's about some people having money and living good lives, some people not having money and suffering because of it.

    Unidentified Man #2: A lot of people I've worked with have lost their jobs. My pension's been raided.

    SIMMONS: There are several thousand protesters here in London , part of a movement beginning in the United States , now spreading around the world. Five thousand gathered in Germany near the European Central Bank . The same slogans adopted in the US seen today in Germany , and in Tehran , and in Australia . Messages that have gone global, spread through the Internet .

    Unidentified Woman: We want an alternative, one that's based on human need and human rights , not on, you know, corporate greed.

    SIMMONS: In Hong Kong , they lay on the sidewalk. In Paris , Poland , and Portugal , small groups demonstrated. But, in Spain , organizers estimated that 300,000 took to the streets of Madrid , large numbers already furious over high unemployment there. Tonight, some streets in the Italian capital resemble a battlefield, burnt out vehicles include a police van . The prime minister called for arrests. The protesters calling for change around the world. Keir Simmons , NBC News, London .

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: And back here in New

Image: A demonstrator celebrates as a Carabinieri police vehicle burns during a demonstration of the 'Indignant' group in Rome
Alessandro Bianchi  /  Reuters
A demonstrator celebrates as a Carabinieri police vehicle burns during a demonstration of the "Indignant" group in Rome on Saturday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 10/16/2011 3:13:08 AM ET 2011-10-16T07:13:08

Hundreds of hooded, masked protesters rampaged through Rome in some of the worst violence in the Italian capital for years Saturday, torching cars and breaking windows during a larger peaceful protest against elites blamed for economic downturn.

Police repeatedly fired tear gas and water cannon in attempts to disperse them but the clashes with a minority of violent demonstrators stretched into the evening, hours after tens of thousands of people in Rome joined a global "day of rage" against bankers and politicians.

Smoke rose over many parts of the neighborhood between the Colosseum and St John's Basilica, forcing many residents and peaceful demonstrators to run into buildings and churches for shelter as militant protesters ran wild.

After police managed to push the well-organized radicals away from the St. John's area, they ravaged a major thoroughfare, the Via Merulana — building barricades with garbage cans and setting the netting of the scaffolding of a building on fire.

Discontent is smoldering in Italy over high unemployment, political paralysis and 60 billion euros ($83 billion) of austerity measures that have raised taxes and the cost of health care.

The violence at times resembled urban guerrilla warfare as protesters hurled rocks, bottles and fireworks at police, who responded by repeatedly charging the demonstrators.

Around 70 people were injured, according to news reports, including one man who tried to stop the protesters from throwing bottles.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno blamed the violence on "a few thousand thugs from all over Italy, and possibly from all over Europe, who infiltrated the demonstration." Some Rome museums were forced to close down and at least one theater canceled a show.

Protesters also set fire to a building, causing the roof to collapse, reports said. The Defense Ministry denied reports it was one of its offices.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi called the violence a "worrying signal," and added that the perpetrators "must be found and punished."

Story: Anti-Wall St. movement grows to dozens of cities
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Berlusconi barely survived a confidence vote Friday, with many questioning his leadership. Italy's debt burden is second only to Greece in the 17-nation eurozone and the country is rapidly becoming a focus of concern in Europe's debt crisis.

At one point radicals surrounded a police van near St John's Basilica, pelted it with rock and bottles, and set it on fire. The two occupants managed to escape, television footage showed.

Some peaceful demonstrators also clashed with the militants and turned some of them over to police.

A day of worldwide protests inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States began Saturday with the hundreds of people gathering in cities from Japan and South Korea to Australia.

Organizers had hoped to see non-violent demonstrations in 951 cities in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa in addition to every state in the United States.

Frankfurt
In the continental Europe's financial capital, some 5,000 people protested in front of the European Central Bank, while in London, around 500 people marched from St. Paul's cathedral to the nearby stock exchange.

A website called 15october.net urged the people of the world to "rise up" and "claim their rights and demand a true democracy."

"Now it is time for all of us to join in a global non violent protest. The ruling powers work for the benefit of just a few, ignoring the will of the vast majority and the human and environmental price we all have to pay. This intolerable situation must end," the website says.

Sydney
About 2,000 people, including representatives of Aboriginal groups, communists and trade unionists, protested outside the central Reserve Bank of Australia.

"I think people want real democracy," said Nick Carson, a spokesman for OccupyMelbourne.Org. "They don't want corporate influence over their politicians. They want their politicians to be accountable."

The crowd cheered a speaker who shouted, "We're sick of corporate greed! Big banks, big corporate power standing over us and taking away our rights!"

How does a group like Occupy Wall Street get anything done?

Danny Lim, a 67-year-old immigrant from Malaysia, said he moved to Australia 48 years ago in search of opportunities.

Now he no longer trusts the government to look after his best interests. He thinks Australia's government has become too dependent upon the U.S. for direction.

"The big man — they don't care. They screw everyone. Eventually we'll mortgage our children away," Lim said.

Tokyo
Where the ongoing nuclear crisis dominates public concerns, about 200 people joined the global protests Saturday.

Under the light drizzle, the participants marched outside the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the tsunami-hit Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, chanting anti-nuclear slogans, while opposing the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade bloc that Japan is considering joining.

"No to nuclear power," the marchers chanted as they held up banners.

Image: A man holds a placard during a protest in Hong Kong
Ed Jones  /  AFP - Getty Images
A man holds a placard during a protest to express anger at "the inequities and excesses of free-market capitalism" in Hong Kong Saturday.

Taiwan
Over 100 people gathered at the Taipei 101 skyscraper, home to the stock exchange, chanting "we are Taiwan's 99 percent", saying economic growth had only benefited companies while middle-class salaries barely covered soaring housing, education and healthcare costs.

They found support from a top businessmen, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp Chairman Morris Chang, who told reporters in the northern city of Hsinchu that Taiwan's income gap was a serious issue.

"I've been against the gap between rich and poor," Chang said. "The wealth of the top 1 percent has increased very fast in the past 20, 30 years. 'Occupy Wall Street' is a reaction to that. We have to take the issue seriously..."

Manila
About 100 members of various groups under the Philippine left-wing alliance, Bayan, marched on the U.S. Embassy Saturday morning to express support for the Occupy Wall Street protests in the United States and to denounce "U.S. imperialism" and U.S.-led wars and aggression.

They carried a large banner that said, "Resist imperialist plunder, state repression and wars of aggression," and another expressing "Solidarity action for Occupy Wall Street."

They also chanted "U.S. troops, out now!" in reference to the presence of hundreds of U.S. soldiers, mostly in the southern Philippines, involved in anti-terrorism training of Filipino troops. One man carried a placard saying "Genuine people's democracy lives in the streets."

South Korea
In South Korea, activists gathered on the streets of Seoul.

The Korea Herald newspaper reported that a coalition of 30 local civic groups planned to hold a two-day protest in the main financial district of Yeouido and other parts of the capital.

The protesters, who have adopted slogans and imagery used by those in the U.S., say the rally is designed to motivate "99 percent of Koreans" to complain about the actions of the wealthiest "1 percent," the paper said.

"The situation is the same in South Korea (as the U.S.), where the financial institutions have speculated to earn high profits in a short time, creating victims," the coalition said in a statement, the Herald reported.

The protesters want compensation for people who lost money in the banking crisis.

Slideshow: Occupy protests go global (on this page)

Seoul police warned that damaging public facilities, occupying roads and assaulting police officers would not be tolerated, the Herald said.

"We will arrest those who stage illegal protests on the spot and also seek legal action even after the rally ends," the Seoul Metropolitan Agency said in a release, the paper reported.

The call for mass protests around the world Saturday originated a month ago from a meeting in Spain, where mostly young and unemployed people angry at the country's handling of the economic crisis have been demonstrating for months.

It was reposted on the Occupy Wall Street website and has been further amplified through social media.

London
Protesters in London vowed to occupy the London Stock Exchange Saturday. Nights of rioting rocked the British capital in August after the fatal police shooting of a 29-year-old man.

"We have people from all walks of life joining us every day," said Spyro, one of those behind a Facebook page in London which has grown to some 12,000 followers in a few weeks.

Spyro, a 28-year-old who has a well-paid job and did not want to give his full name, summed up the main target of the global protests as "the financial system."

Canada
Protests were planned for Saturday in cities including Montreal and Vancouver. In Toronto, demonstrators plan to gather at Canada's main stock exchange.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he doubted Canadians would be as angry as their neighbors to the south as Canadian banks have not received a U.S.-type bailout.

He declined to comment when asked if he was concerned about a possible repeat of street violence that Toronto experienced at the G-20 summit last year.

New York
In the United States, the hundreds of protesters at Manhattan's Zuccotti Park — site of the original Occupy protest — called for more people to join them.

Video: Police and protesters clash on Wall Street (on this page)

Politicians in both President Barack Obama's Democratic Party and the Republican Party struggled to come up with a response to the growing nationwide movement.

Democrats have been largely supportive but also wary of endorsing criticism of Obama's rescue of big banks in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The bank bailout was launched in the last months of President George W. Bush's administration.

Republicans at first criticized the demonstrations but have shifted their tone in recent days.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor warned of "growing mobs" but later said the protesters were "justifiably frustrated."

© 2013 msnbc.com

Photos: Global Occupy protests begin

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  1. Mounted police stop Occupy Wall Street participants trying to break through barricades preventing them from spilling onto the street at Times Square in New York on Saturday, Oct. 15. Thousands of demonstrators protesting corporate greed filled Times Square and there were dozens of arests. The Occupy Wall Street movement went global with groups from Asia to Europe, and in every U.S. state, staging demonstrations and other actions. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. New York police, center, arrest protesters amid the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Times Square. (Zhu Wei / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Demonstrators associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement protest amid steam in New York's Times Square on Oct. 15. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Protesters with Occupy Seattle burn a Bank of America debit card as they protest in downtown Seattle on Oct. 15. (Ted S. Warren / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Occupy Seattle protesters march near Seattle's Pike Place Market, Oct. 15. (Ted S. Warren / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Tourists in a cable car take photographs of Occupy San Francisco protesters during a demonstration Oct. 15. (Robert Galbraith / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Demonstrators take part in the Occupy Miami protest, Oct. 15. (Joe Skipper / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. People are detained by New York City police officers in the lobby of a Citibank branch near Washington Square, where Occupy Wall Street demonstrators held a rally Oct. 15. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. About 100 Occupy Wall Street protesters march along Oxnard Boulevard in Oxnard, Calif., on Oct 15. (Juan Carlo / The Ventura County Star via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Young people perfom a symbolic act at Athen's Syntagma square as they participate in a protest against the global financial system Oct. 15. (Alkis Konstantinidis / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A police officer subdues a protester in front of the St. John in Lateran basilica during clashes in Rome on Oct. 15. (Gregorio Borgia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Protesters march through the smoke of flares during a demonstration in dowtown Rome on Oct. 15. (Mario Laporta / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Police officers fire tear gas in Rome on Oct. 15. Protesters in Rome smashed shop windows and torched cars as violence broke out during a demonstration in the Italian capital. (Gregorio Borgia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Protesters hurl objects at police in Rome, Saturday, Oct. 15. (Gregorio Borgia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Demonstrators attempt to break through the entrance of a bank branch during a protest against banking and finance in Rome. (Stefano Rellandini / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Police scuffle with 'Occupy London' protesters at an entrance to Paternoster Square, Oct. 15. (Matt Cetti-Roberts / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A protester scuffles with police during the 'Occupy London' protest outside St. Paul's Cathedral on Oct. 15, in London, England. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks website arrives to speak to protesters outside St Paul's Cathedral. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Protesters shout slogans as they take part in the 'Occupy Central' protest in Stockholm, Sweden. (Maja Suslin / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Protesters gather at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. The demonstration is one of many being held across the country recently in support of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York. (Bradley C Bower / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. German protesters demonstrating against the influence of bankers and financiers sit on the ground next to the Euro symbol in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. (Johannes Simon / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Hooded protestors with Pinocchio-type noses, one holding a Euro sign, walk up to the gate of the NYSE Euronext stock exchange in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oct. 15, during a demonstration in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. (Peter Dejong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Demonstrators stand in front of the Credit Suisse building during the "Occupy Paradeplatz" protest in Zurich, Switzerland. (Christian Hartmann / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A protester with fake U.S. bank notes stuck on his mask takes part in an "Occupy Hong Kong" rally outside the Hong Kong Exchange Square. (Kin Cheung / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A protester holds a placard during an "Occupy Hong Kong" rally outside the Hong Kong Exchange Square. (Kin Cheung / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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