Protests at financial mismanagement and government cutbacks have been held in cities around the world. At least 20 people were injured in clashes at the biggest rally, in Rome, as riot police fought masked militants who had attacked property. Police used tear gas, water cannon and baton-charges, making several arrests. Inspired by the Occupy Wall St movement and Spain's "Indignants", demonstrators turned out from Asia to Europe, but numbers were generally small.
Organisers expect rallies in 82 countries, with the protests due to come full circle when they reach New York. Organisers said on their website that the aim was to "initiate the global change we want". "United in one voice, we will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future," it said.
Tens of thousands of people had turned out to demonstrate peacefully in Rome. Television pictures from the city showed streets packed with protesters waving banners, close to the Colosseum. However militants dressed in black infiltrated the crowd and began attacking property. Offices belonging to the Italian defence ministry were set on fire, three cars were burnt and there were attacks on cash dispensers and bank and shop windows. Police moved in after bottles were reportedly thrown at them, and at least one police vehicle is said to have been set alight.
The militants were also challenged by other protesters, the BBC's David Willey reports from Rome. "No to violence!" they shouted and tried to restrain them. The injured included police officers. There was a message of support for the global day of protest from the chief of the Bank of Italy, Mario Draghi, who is set to take over as head of the European Central Bank (ECB) next month. "Young people are right to be indignant," he was quoted by Italian media as saying.
"They're angry against the world of finance. I understand them... We adults are angry about the crisis. Can you imagine people who are in their twenties or thirties?" Outside the ECB itself in Frankfurt, Germany, thousands of people gathered to protest on Saturday. A 27-year-old schoolteacher who gave his name only as Tobias told AFP news agency: "I see the global capitalist system as a time bomb for humans but also for the planet. "Our well-being is financed to the detriment of other countries, [and] the ECB represents this unjust and murderous system."