Support for the New York-based Occupy Wall Street has gained momentum nationwide.
Protests with names like Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Portland, Occupy Chicago, and Occupy Boston were staged in front of Federal Reserve buildings and city halls this week. More actions are anticipated.
“I cannot afford not to be here," Frank Mello, a retired teacher from Attleboro, Mass., told Reuters on Wednesday in Boston. "I’m here to demonstrate that we are stronger when we are united and Wall Street is as powerful as we allow them to be.”
Occupy Wall Street started with fewer than a dozen college students spending days and nights in Zuccotti Park, a plaza near the city's financial center. But protesters have joined in in other cities.
In Los Angeles on Thursday, hundreds of protesters took over an intersection in the downtown financial district. Police arrested about 10 demonstrators who entered a Bank of America and refused to leave.
Occupy Los Angeles protesters also had pitched tents on the lawn of City Hall, NBC Los Angeles reported.
In Portland, Ore., thousands of protesters marched Thursday from Waterfront Park through downtown. Hundreds also gathered in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square. "The corporations have taken our futures away from us and we're just not going to stand by and let that happen," one protester told KGW.Insider out: From front office to Wall St. 'Occupier'
In Orlando, Fla., hundreds of activists gathered Wednesday night to talk about future Occupy Orlando demonstrations. To the north, a group in Columbus, Ohio, marched on the capital city's street and plan to do more.
In Canada, an anti-Wall Street rally is planned for later this month in Toronto.
A sampling of some protesters across the country:
Frank Mello, 69, retired teacher
Mello is a veteran protester: He marched against the Vietnam War and now has taken up a younger generation's battle, he said. He wants to end corporate greed and economic injustices.
Mello traveled a short distance to Boston's financial district camp on Wednesday and marched along the road. He said he planned to participate in the protests again.From Wall St. to Nashville, 'occupiers' share protest images
Said Mello: “You can’t let Wall Street overtake our democracy."
Lisa Doherty, 56, jobless
Doherty, who has been unemployed for more than three years, said she's tired of politicians. She said she decided to demonstrate with Occupy Boston because she wanted to do something to better life for future generations.
On Wednesday, Doherty, who formerly worked in mortgage loan processing, stood alongside the road with a sign that read: "Our Movement is Too Big to Fail".
“I have five children and seven grandchildren and I want them to grow up in a better world with more equality and without corporations buying our politicians,” Doherty told Reuters.Video: ‘Occupy Wall Street’ takes protests to New Jersey (on this page)
“I just hope that enough people rise up against the corporate greed in this country and the government — the government is not helping us."
Cullen Nawalkowsky, 35, DJ and concert promoter
He said he was upset over abandoned homes and how the recession has halted his hometown's economic development.
Nawalkowsky joined 200 protesters on Tuesday in a park across from Baltimore's Inner Harbor. He among 50 people who demonstrated on Wednesday.
"The concerns from Wall Street resonate in Baltimore," Nawalkowsky said. "The recession has disproportionately hit the black population. The financial institutions are not operating in the best interest of the community."
He said he doesn't plan to leave.
Floyd Robinson, 23, works for nonprofit agriculture agency
Robinson said he was proud of making a stand and joined demonstrators on Tuesday.
He said he was reluctant to leave but knew that his work beckoned and would have to abandon his stand at the park.
"I would like to see this lead to bigger self-awareness for everybody," he said. "This is a big week for our country."
Ryan Hallgren, 33, former CFO for a private university
Hallgren's 4-year-old son, Lincoln, sat inside a wagon, as the father pulled him alongside other demonstrators in Chicago. He talked about good, silver, commodities and foreclosures.
Hallgren said he'd had enough and wanted to make a difference.
"It's absurd to think we can continue to grow year after year," he told Reuters, adding "Bankruptcies and foreclosures are built into the system. And we're fine with that? How can we be fine with that? How can we be fine with exploiting populations all around the world?"Biden empathizes with Wall Street protests
Seth Voorhees, 34, card dealer
Voorhees, from Eugene, Ore., was on his way to North Carolina to do some hiking — and then New York — but stopped in Chicago because he heard of the movement.
"I'm here as long as I feel I'm needed," he told Reuters on Wednesday, adding "I don't think people are going to give up. I think it will get stronger and stronger."
The Rev. Brian Merritt, 42, Presbyterian minister
Merritt, who is the spokesman for Occupy DC, said the demonstrations are growing in strength.
He said about eight protesters were camped out in Washington’s MacPherson Square, a few blocks north of the White House on Wednesday. As they held their noon general assembly, the numbers were swollen by about 25 — mostly young people drawn by recruiters in nearby streets, he told Reuters. Now, that number is about 90, he said.
On Thursday, the Occupy DC protest planned to march to K Street to protest against lobbyists' influence on government.Story: Obama acknowledges Wall Street protests as a sign
“For most people this has been a recession. For this group, it has been a depression,” he told Reuters on Wednesday.
“People in this town want to see actionable goals. I feel that people would leave if it was a gripe session. They want it to move in a direction that is constructive but transformative.”
Occupy DC is separate from the Stop the Machine movement, which is holding a rally at Washington’s Freedom Plaza from Thursday through Sunday. The group describes its rally as “an American version of what happened in Egypt this year” and is timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Organizers expect about 7,000 protesters to attend.
Hydranga Darling, 22, unemployed
She's jobless and fed up. Darling, a resident of Pasadena, Calif., said she has been out of work since 2010 and sees no hope for employment.
But Darling said she has found a sense of relief within the movement; she spent Wednesday helping in the first aid tent at the Occupy Los Angeles encampment at City Hall. Darling said she joined the movement Saturday and has no plans to leave.Video: Obama talks unemployment, Wall Street protests (on this page)
"There are so many kinds of oppression that have been going on in the world for so long and now we finally have a big group of people fed up over a lot of things so we can consolidate our ideas and get things done we want to get done," she told Reuters.
"Things would be so much better if we lived in a much more financially equal world."
Sean McMillan, 46, disabled U.S. Army veteran and owner of a struggling small business
He held a sign that says, "When Will the Greed Stop?" according to The Oregonian.
"It's about time! We're sick and tired of corporations making all the money," he said.
"It's like the trickle down effect. Those of us at the bottom get peed on, so to speak."
This article includes reporting from Reuters, The Associated Press, msnbc.com staff and NBC News.
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