Activists across the United States joined worldwide May Day protests on Tuesday, with Occupy Wall Street members in several cities leading demonstrations against financial institutions and immigrant rights activists calling attention to the plight of the undocumented.
In New York, police in riot gear lined the front of a Bank of America, facing several dozen Occupy activists marching behind barricades. "Bank of America. Bad for America!" they chanted.
About 50 demonstrators in Chicago rallied outside another of the bank's branches. They allowed patrons to go inside, but the doorway was eventually blocked by police who placed their bicycles end to end.
Across the world, protests drew tens of thousands of demonstrators into the streets from the Philippines to Spain. They demanded everything from wage increases to an end to austerity measures.
Tuesday's U.S. protests were the most visible organizing effort by anti-Wall Street groups since Occupy encampments were dismantled last fall. May Day protests have in recent years focused on immigrant rights.
From New York to San Francisco, organizers of the various demonstrations, strikes and acts of civil disobedience said they were not too concerned about muddling their messages. They noted that the movements have similar goals: jobs, fair wages and equality.
Organizers of Chicago's rally said they welcomed participation from the Occupy groups. "I definitely see it as an enrichment of it," Orlando Sepulveda said. "It's great."
In Los Angeles, at least a half a dozen rallies were planned. A rally was also planned in Minneapolis.
In Atlanta, about 100 people rallied outside the Georgia Capitol, where a law targeting illegal immigration was passed last year. They called for an end to local-federal partnerships to enforce immigration law.
The May Day protest was significantly smaller than last year's, which drew about 1,000 people. Organizers said turnout last year was greater, in part, because the rally was on a Sunday, rather than during the work week.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, service on the Golden Gate Ferry was shut down as ferry workers went on strike. They have been in contract negotiations for a year in a dispute over health care coverage.
A coalition of bridge and bus workers said they will honor a picket line of at least 50 workers outside the ferry terminal. Several Occupy protesters joined them in the protest.
Organizers had backed away from earlier calls to block the Golden Gate Bridge, but scores of police — some carrying helmets and batons — lined the span during the morning rush hour nonetheless.
Some protesters with signs stood nearby, but did not disrupt traffic.
In New York, where the first Occupy camp was set up and where large protests attracted some of the earliest attention — and mass arrests — to the movement, protesters gathered at Bryant Park in Manhattan.
They prepared to march to various financial institutions, including Chase and Citibank. The crowd grew to several hundred toward noon, with a drum-and-brass live band as a soundtrack.
John Connors, who said he was a financial analyst, took the day off, as well as his shirt, revealing a chest with the words, "Black Hole of Finance," painted on it.
Threatening letters containing a white powder that appeared to be corn starch were sent to some institutions.
Three letters were received Tuesday, two at News Corp. headquarters and addressed to the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, and one to Citigroup. The message in the letters said: "Happy May Day."
Seven letters were received Monday at various banks. One was sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Occupy activists had said they planned to bring business to a standstill, but the crowds protesting in the rain Tuesday morning were modest.
The Occupy movement in New York has relied on demonstrations and marches around the city since Nov. 15, when police ousted hundreds of protesters from their base in Zuccotti Park, where they had camped since Sept. 17.
Paul Browne, the police department's chief spokesman, said recently that the department was "experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity.
"And we're prepared to do both," he said.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.