- - Sunday, October 16, 2011

About 175 protesters inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement were arrested in Chicago early Sunday when they refused to take down their tents and leave a city park when it closed, police said.

The arrests occurred as the protests spread to dozens of cities in the U.S. and around the world, with thousands gathering to rally against what they see as corporate greed.

The arrests in Chicago were mostly peaceful and came as somewhat of a contrast to demonstrations in other cities, where participants have taken care to follow laws in order to continue protesting what they say is Wall Street’s role in the financial crisis and to express other grievances.

Most of the marches were largely non-confrontational, though dozens were arrested in New York and elsewhere in the U.S. when police moved to contain overflowing crowds or keep them off private property. Two officers in New York were injured and had to be hospitalized.

At least one protest grew violent. In Rome, rioters hijacked what had been a peaceful gathering and smashed windows, tore up sidewalks and torched vehicles. Repair costs were estimated at $1.4 million, the mayor said Sunday.

On Sunday, hundreds of protesters camped out in London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, with some vowing to settle in for the long term. The three camps, each of them in the heart of the cities’ financial districts, sprang up a day after rallies in 80 countries inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

In London, several hundred anti-capitalist demonstrators camped in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral, just yards away from the London Stock Exchange. Roy Alexander, 39, who acted as an organizer for the occupation on the first day, said: “We’re planning to stay here indefinitely. We’ll stay here and make a stand. I think we’ll have more people join.”

The camp had grown to about 70 tents late Sunday. “Keep Calm And Occupy London,” read one banner. “Bail out people, Not the banks,” read another.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard declined to comment on whether the demonstration would be cleared in time for the Monday morning rush hour.

In Chicago, about 500 people had set up camp at the entrance to Grant Park on Saturday evening after a protest earlier in the day involving about 2,000, the Chicago Tribune reported. Police said they gave protesters repeated warnings after the park closed at 11 p.m. and began making arrests when they refused to leave.

Officers also asked protesters to take down their tents before beginning to cut them down to clear the area, police said. Protesters who were arrested would be released after background checks. The checks were done to make sure they didn’t have any outstanding arrest warrants, police said. They could face fines for violating a municipal ordinance.

Elsewhere in the U.S., Princeton University professor Cornel West was arrested Sunday afternoon, along with 18 other people, for refusing to leave the grounds of the Supreme Court while protesting corporate influence in politics.

Mr. West, a well-known socialist academic, had attended the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall before joining the “October 2011 Stop the Machine” protest in Washington’s Freedom Plaza.

In Richmond, about 75 people gathered Sunday for one of the “general assembly” meetings that are a key part of the Occupy movement’s consensus-building process.

Protester Whitney Whiting, a video editor, said the process has helped “gather voices” about Americans’ discontent, and that she expects it will eventually take the movement a step further. “In regards to a singular issue or a singular focus, I think that will come eventually,” she said.

Some U.S. protesters, like those in Europe, have their own causes. Unions that have joined forces with the movement have demands of their own, and on Sunday, members of the newly formed Occupy Pittsburgh group demanded that Bank of New York Mellon Corp. pay back money they say it overcharged public pension funds around the country.