Wall Street protests draw overseas attention
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Occupy Wall Street movement, which has spawned grass-roots activities around the U.S. and prompted comments from President Barack Obama, is now drawing political remarks from overseas.
Poland's former President Lech Walesa says he supports the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, saying he is planning either a visit or writing a letter to the protesters.
Walesa said the global economic crisis has made people aware that "we need to change the capitalist system" because we need "more justice, more people's interests, and less money for money's sake."
Meanwhile, Iran's top leader said the wave of protests reflects a serious problem that will ultimately topple capitalism in America. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed the United States is in a full-blown crisis because its "corrupt foundation has been exposed to the American people."
Khamenei's remarks came a day after U.S. officials said the Obama administration plans to leverage charges that Iran plotted to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador into a new global campaign to isolate the Islamic republic.
For the past 3-1/2 weeks, the protesters have camped out in a park in lower Manhattan near Wall Street to rally primarily against corporate greed, charging that it is the primary cause of the country's failing economy.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited them Wednesday at Zuccotti Park. Bloomberg told them park owner Brookfield Properties plans to clean the public space on Friday, and said they would be allowed to return after the park is clean.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement that the protest has "created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park." He said Brookfield Properties asked for police help to clear the park so it can be cleaned.
Allison Esso of Human Services Council, a group that supports the protesters, was wary. "I'm hoping that they're not trying to undermine their ability to protest," she said.
The New York protest has triggered sympathetic groups in other cities, who each stage their own local rallies and demonstrations: Occupy Boston, Occupy Cincinnati, Occupy Houston, Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Philadelphia, Occupy Providence, Occupy Salt Lake, and Occupy Seattle, among them.
Protesters say they are in it for the long haul, despite the onset of cold weather.
The New York demonstrators gathered Wednesday at the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase, where they'll continue to decry the expiration of the state's 2 percent "millionaires' tax" in December.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for a woman pepper sprayed during an action last month is demanding that the Manhattan district attorney prosecute an NYPD deputy inspector on an assault charge. Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the matter was being investigated by police internal affairs and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
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