Occupy activists lead May Day protests in several cities

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Hundreds of activists across the U.S. have joined the worldwide May Day protests Tuesday, May 1st.

Occupy Wall Street members in several cities have been leading demonstrations against major financial institutions.

Oakland, Calif., was the scene of some of the fiercest clashes between police and Occupy protesters last fall, and things boiled over again today. A stinging gas sent crowds fleeing a downtown intersection. The protesters had been trying to force businesses to shut down for not observing calls for a ``general strike.'' Police took at least four people into custody.

In New York, police in riot gear lined the front of a Bank of America, facing several dozen Occupy activists marching behind barricades and chanting "Bank of America. Bad for America!''

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 thousands of demonstrators into the streets from the Philippines to Spain. They demanded everything from wage increases to an end to austerity measures.