By Christine Kearney, Reuters, April 3, 2009
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Several hundred demonstrators protested near Wall Street on Friday against the handling of the U.S. economic crisis, government bailouts of private banks and corporations and bonuses paid out at insurer AIG.
Members of worker rights, healthcare and anti-war groups gathered in the rain holding posters that read "Bail Out the Unemployed" and "No More $ For Wall St & War."
They also shouted demands for more jobs.
"This crisis is growing more dire everyday with so many people being kicked out of their home and jobs," said Dustin Langley, a spokesman for the 'Bail Out The People Movement', the main protest organizer that called for a moratorium on U.S. home foreclosures and the creation of a national jobs program.
Hundreds of protesters lined up on Broadway to march past the headquarters of American International Group and close to the New York Stock Exchange and financial giants Bank of America, Chase and American Express, but were not permitted on Wall Street.
The rally was held as the rate of unemployment in the United States soared to 8.5 percent, the highest in 25 years, after employers cut 663,000 jobs in March.
Michael Feinberg, 51, a rabbi who runs a nonprofit workers rights group, held a sign that read 'Regulate The Profiteers,' and argued that corporations who helped plunge the economy into recession should not have received bailout money.
"That money should have been used to put people to work, to create jobs and healthcare, not to reward greedy financial speculators," he said. "This has to be a wake-up call that we have to change our national priorities about the way we do business in this country."
Friday's protest follows hundreds of others held around the United States since the bailout of investment banks began last year. Another demonstration is planned for Saturday in New York by the same group.
"These bankers ought to be jailed," said David Sole, 60, a chemist who traveled from Detroit to express his anger over the bailouts granted as the U.S. economy continues to slump.
With tears in his eyes, Sole decried the high number of home foreclosures and job losses suffered by his neighbors in Michigan. "It's unbelievable this would have happened in my lifetime. It's like we are in the 1930s," he said.
(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Michelle Nichols and Anthony Boadle)