Brussels 'Indignants' vow to keep up pressure
Spanish "Indignants" vowed to keep up pressure on European leaders Saturday, as they led a 2,000-strong march in Brussels, the culmination of a months-long walk that has inspired the "Occupy Wall Street" protests.
Protesters from Belgium, England, France, the Netherlands and even the United States also swelled the ranks of the anti-capitalists, who criticised governments and banks as a Brussels police officer went before a magistrate for assaulting a female demonstrator.
"We are the 99 percent," they cried, echoing the motif of the Madrid-based movement for an alternative to capitalist democracy.
Belgian police changed the marchers' route at the last minute, but by mid-afternoon, no trouble had yet been recorded as the protesters snaked their way in glorious sunshine towards a park by the European Union headquarters.
Sofia Novo, a 23-year-old Spaniard who said she joined the walk in Paris after giving up her studies, said her group would stay on another week to protest at a delayed summit of EU leaders.
"What's happening on Wall Street wouldn't have been possible without what started in Madrid," she said as the crowd set off from a mainline railway station downtown.
"But Madrid was a reaction to the decisions that are taken here -- and that are going to get worse come next week's summit for the 99 percent of people who feel they have no other voice," she added.
Baseball-capped Jackson, a 62-year-old man of Sudanese ancestry, said he flew over from Washington to show his solidarity with hundreds of youths whose foot pilgrimage has startled seasoned camapaigning veterans.
"I'm meeting people here from all backgrounds, but they all tell the same story," said the grandfather-of-four.
"We're fed up with the governments and the banks and their never-ending cosy deals," he underlined.
After a mostly trouble-free week camped in a Brussels park, police adopted a stand-back approach, despite the late route changes, which also forced the protesters to bypass the main EU buildings.
City prosecutors said meanwhile they had released from custody an officer who admitted kicking a female Greek protester while the young girl was handcuffed and seated in the street, during a protest outside the newly bailed-out Dexia bank's headquarters earlier in the week.
The officer, who remains suspended, was formally charged with assault after admitting the attack and expressing his regret, according to Belga news agency.
Cities across the world were witnessing similar demonstrations on a global day of action against a renewed financial crisis that threatens a second, global recession.
© 2011 AFP