Environmentalists Disrupt Financial Districts in NYC, San Francisco
Undated (AP) _ Hundreds of environmentalists demonstrated Monday in the financial districts of New York and San Francisco, where post-Earth Day demonstrators shattered windows at the Bank of America. Authorities said 249 people were arrested.
Also in California, hand-delivered messages claimed responsibility Monday for vandalism that cut power to some 92,000 Pacific Gas & Electric customers in Santa Cruz and Watsonville.
In New York, police arrested about 185 of an estimated 700 demonstrators.
″The major corporations have committed a lot of crimes against nature,″ said Marc Chernoff, 30, a member of New York’s Coalition for a Nuclear Free Harbor. ″It’s long overdue to place the blame where it directly belongs. If the products that pollute were not made available, people would not buy them.″
Trade on the New York Stock Exchange went on as scheduled and none of the protesters got inside. ″Except for getting up a little early, it’s a pretty normal day,″ said the exchange’s senior vice president, Richard Torrenzano.
At the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco, 49 people were arrested during a demonstration by 300 to 500 protesters that turned violent when some broke windows at Bank of America, threw golf balls, rocks and eggs at police, and overturned newsstands.
The exchange also opened on schedule although some employees were delayed.
Police closed off two blocks of Wall Street to traffic and all pedestrians except those working there. Traffic elsewhere was disrupted during the morning and afternoon when protesters walked through lower Manhattan streets.
The protest was organized by Earth Day Wall Street Action, which described itself as a coalition of 60 environmental organizations in the United States and Canada. It said it wanted to focus attention on ″institutions responsible for much of the ecological devastation which is destroying the planet.″
″I don’t know why they’re protesting against Wall Street,″ said James F. Dean, 24, an auditor with J.P. Morgan. ″I don’t think anyone is taking this seriously besides them.″
″I think it’s great that these guys in suits are stopping to hear us,″ said Debbie Augustine, 34, of Loudon, N.H., a member of the anti-nuclear power Clamshell Alliance.
A spokesman for the San Francisco demonstrators, Daniel Finkenthal of the Earth Day Action Coalition, said the purpose of the protest there was to give the public an alternative to the corporate-sponsored views of environmental action that preceded Earth Day.
″Yesterday these corporations came into our community and spent a lot of money on a media coup to try to convince the American public that environmental protection and reform was high on the corporate agenda, but it’s the lowest priority,″ Finkenthal said. ″In fact, they’re spending more money on Earth Day promotion than they are on actual corporate reform and the environment.″
The group that claimed responsibility for the two California outages called itself Earth Night Action Group and said the target was Pacific Gas & Electric, a ″corporate earth rapist.″ Residents of Santa Cruz and Watsonville were affected by the outages Sunday and early Monday, caused by damage to power PG&E poles.
A young male caller to The Associated Press telephoned a few minutes after delivery of the message to ask if it had been received. Similar messages went to Bay City News Service and the San Francisco Examiner. The caller refused to give his name or his telephone number.