New York Marchers Protest Wall Street, Big Banks

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Reuters

New York Marchers Protest Wall Street, Big Banks

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A protester holds a sign during the "Main Street to Wall Street" rally in New York's financial district April 29, 2010. (Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar)

NEW YORK - Several thousand
demonstrators marched through the New York financial district on
Thursday in a protest led by labor unions, saying Wall Street's biggest
banks must account for record profits while average Americans still
suffer financially.

Spearheaded
by the AFL-CIO, the march made its way through the downtown Manhattan
financial district with signs saying "Wall Street overdrafted our
economy" and "Reclaim America, hold banks accountable."

The march featured a variety of organizations and labor unions with grievances about the economy and jobs.

Union
member Kurt Hallman, an electrician who was marching in the rally, said
the big banks "let everybody here sink to the bottom."

"They tightened up all the loaning. Now there's no money," he said. "These guys who gave themselves billion dollar bonuses."

The
U.S. Senate began debating an overhaul of the U.S. financial system on
Thursday after Republicans tried for three days threatened to ground
proceedings to a halt.

Support for
the Democrats' push on Wall Street reform was boosted following a
Senate hearing this week in which executives from giant investment bank
Goldman Sachs faced questioning about the company's ethics and
treatment of clients.

"Big Banks
tanked our economy and took our money when they needed a bailout,"
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a column posted on the
Huffington Post website. "The bottom line is Wall Street should pay to
clean up the mess they made and Congress must enact strong Wall Street
reform."

Last week President
Barack Obama delivered a speech in New York in which he scolded Wall
Street for fighting tighter regulation and said legislation was needed
to avoid future crises.

"I am very
disappointed Obama didn't come down stronger," said Tanya Gallo, an
educator at the rally. "If there is ever a time to be mad as hell, it's
now."

One group at the rally
dubbed itself "The Other 98 Percent" and called for policies that focus
on "the rest of us" instead of the wealthy.

"We're not here to say get rid of the markets," said Marco Ceglie, a co-founder, "just that they need adult supervision."

(Reporting by Basil Katz; editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Mohammad Zargham)

 

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