Unions, Activists Convene March on Wall Street

One day after Republicans agreed to allow debate on financial regulatory reform—and two days after Goldman Sachs executives were pilloried on the Hill—protesters will try to bring their fight to New York this afternoon. In a rally organized by the AFL-CIO and activists, protesters will march on Wall Street itself. They're calling for "Wall Street accountability, the creation of good jobs now, and an end to predatory lending practices." 

Organizers say they expect some 10,000 protesters to gather in City Hall Park in the financial district, where AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and others will address them. Elsewhere across the country, organizers say activists will march on bank branches and bank shareholder meetings. Since the demonstration in New York begins around 3:30, it will coincide with rush hour and could potentially cause traffic nightmares.

The rally comes as populist anger against the banks seethes, stoked by charges of fraud levied against Goldman Sachs by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The organizers are billing it as the biggest anti-bank demonstration since some 3,000 people gathered in Chicago in October to protest at the American Bankers Association convention. But while the rally may bring out plenty of protesters, the actual effect on bankers is likely to be minimal: most of the big "Wall Street" firms have moved to midtown Manhattan and no longer reside in the financial district.

UPDATE, 3:30 p.m.: The Associated Press reports that earlier this afternoon—prior to the start of the rally—protestors busted into the lobbies of banks in midtown Manhattan. They report that 100 people entered a building with JPMorgan Chase offices, chanting "Bust up big banks!" and "People Power!" They then moved on to other buildings.

UPDATE, 6 p.m.: Bloomberg reports that "thousands" showed up for the demonstration, although the wire doesn't offer a more specific number. We're waiting to see what final estimates for the crowd are. Trumka told those gathered that "the bankers, the brokers, and big shots on Wall Street must understand." Huffington Post has a slideshow of the protests.

Check back for updates as the demonstration goes on.