24 arrested as US protests escalate

Twenty-four protesters were arrested as a vast crowd marched outside Bank of America offices in Boston in the latest US demonstrations against corporate influence and greed.

Nine men and 15 women were charged with trespassing for their part in a sit-down protest on Friday afternoon, Boston police spokesman Eddy Chrispin said.

"They were asked to remove themselves, and they opted to be arrested," Chrispin told AFP on Saturday.

Right to the City, the coalition of advocacy groups that organised the demonstration, said the event was held to protest corporate greed and to stop bank foreclosures.

According to organisers, some 3,000 people marched outside the bank. Police did not provide a crowd estimate.

A Bank of America spokesman dismissed the protest as part of "increasingly aggressive PR stunts," and told local media the demonstrators are ignoring the bank's efforts to help homeowners in distress.

Bank of America, the largest US bank in terms of assets, recently announced it would lay off 30,000 employees and slash US$5 billion (A$5.13 billion) from its annual costs by 2014 as part of a sweeping restructuring plan.

"While the CEOs rake in millions in salary and bonuses, major corporations are laying off thousands of workers each month," Right to the City said on its website. "Enough is enough."

The bank's stock has tumbled in recent months amid doubts about the strength of its capital base and mounting legal costs from its disastrous involvement with subprime mortgages before the 2008 financial crisis.

The Boston protest appeared to dovetail with demonstrations in New York city, where more than 1,000 mainly young activists have been protesting for the past two weeks over the Wall Street bailout and corporate influence in US politics.

The group calling itself Occupy Wall Street said on its website that it staked its ground in downtown Manhattan "as a symbolic gesture of our discontent with the current economic and political climate."

"We are all races, sexes and creeds. We are the majority. We are the 99 per cent. And we will no longer be silent," it said, expressing "solidarity" with protesters in Boston.

The group said a march in New York was planned for Saturday afternoon.

- AAP

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