Occupy Wall Street protesters took to New York's streets Tuesday in the highlight of a plan to mount a "general strike" across the United States.
Small groups of protesters held simultaneous demonstrations outside a string of Manhattan corporate institutions including the Time-Life building and McGraw Hill publishers in the Rockefeller Center neighborhood.
Others were targeting Bank of America and HSBC branches, others Disney and The New York Times. "Prosecute the fraud" and "Jobs now," read two protest placards.
Protests appeared to be peaceful, with few arrests, in contrast to previous Occupy events that have typically ended in scuffles and mass arrests on minor charges.
However, the disruption and potential for conflict was expected to heat up later in the day when activists staged a march through lower Manhattan to the Wall Street area.
Activists say they are protesting against corporate greed and the plight of ordinary people in an anemic economy and housing market. "Hey, hey, BOA, who did you foreclose today?" protesters chanted at a Bank of America office building.
Similar protests were announced across dozens of US and in countries ranging from Spain to Australia.
"While American corporate media has focused on yet another stale election between Wall Street-financed candidates, Occupy has been organizing something extraordinary: the first truly nationwide General Strike in US history," the OWS movement said on its website occupywallst.org.
The day of action comes against the background of a rancorous presidential election campaign, but also tests the Occupy movement's ability to regain its flagging influence.
OWS appeared in New York for the first time last September, with activists taking over a square near Wall Street to protest against government bank bailouts, corporate salaries, and what they said was a hopeless economic landscape for ordinary people.
However, after police across America ejected OWS protesters from public squares two months later, the movement struggled to stay in the limelight and to back up its claim to represent the mainstream public, or the so-called 99 percent.
[Occupy Wall Street protesters picket during a May Day rally via AFP / Monika Graff]