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Occupy Wall Street Protests Spread Nationwide

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Occupy Wall Street is sparking spinoffs, with protests taking place Thursday in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

In Los Angeles, protesters occupied a Bank of America building and were arrested.

The demonstrators have also taken to picketing the residence of a bank executive, according to the Los Angeles Times.

As part of Occupy Philadelphia, hundreds of people gathered at City Hall, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The chant, "We are the 99 percent," became the rallying cry of the demonstration, according to the paper.

It is a refrain that has been made popular by Occupy Wall Street and the blog the organization started that uses photos to portray the struggles of Americans.

The chant was carried to Washington, D.C. Thursday, where an anti-war protest that had been planned for months morphed into a catch-all protest inspired in part by the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York.

President Obama addressed the protests during a press conference at the White House Thursday morning.

"It expresses the frustrations that the American people feel that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street," Obama said. "And yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place."

Back in New York, the ground zero of the movement, Occupy Wall Street was regrouping after holding its largest protest on Wednesday.

The demonstration drew thousands and was peaceful until the evening, when protesters tried to march toward the New York Stock Exchange.

"They tried to storm the barricades," a senior police official told ABC News' New York affiliate, WABC.

Police blocked the crowd and used pepper spray and batons to control them.

"That was a very small group of people and those do not reflect what has been consistently a very peaceful movement," one demonstrator told ABC News.

At least 24 arrests were made and some protesters are claiming the use of force was inappropriate.

Occupy Wall Street tweeted: "Videos starting 2 go up of cops beating #occupywallstreet peaceful protesters tonight. WARNING- graphic video."

City officials acknowledged they have been and continue to examine some of the behavior caught on camera Wednesday night showing officers forcefully swinging nightclubs.

"This is a city that values people's right to protest," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "But you don't have a right to charge police officers....We will enforce the law...there is a line you can't cross."

On Saturday, about 700 demonstrators were arrested after blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge.

While some on the ground welcome the concept of a showdown with the "1 percent," organizers, who claim to represent "the 99 percent" of Americans they say are being trampled on by the financial elite, say they remain committed to "non-violent" protest.

In the wake of the most recent arrests there has been a notable increase in the police presence around Zuccotti Park in New York.

The movement, which began on Sept. 17, has grown from a few hundred people in lower Manhattan to thousands across the country. While there is no official message or list of demands, the frustration being expressed over increasing economic inequality and perceived corporate greed is resonating.

There are now similar groups in at least five other states and major cities like Baltimore, Seattle, Nashville and Boston.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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