Occupy Toronto protesters clog downtown

Occupy Toronto protesters clogged the city's busy downtown core during the rush hour, staging sit-ins that snarled traffic and transit.

Occupy Toronto protesters clogged the city's busy downtown core during the rush hour, staging sit-ins that snarled traffic and transit.

Just after 6:30 p.m., a group of about 100 people accompanied by police started moving east on Dundas Street toward St. James Park, where they had set up a makeshift camp on Saturday.

The crowd staged a sit-in at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas streets for about an hour. Protesters arranged themselves so they spelled out "99%" when viewed from above.

The 99 per cent figure is a reference to one of the key symbols of similar protests that have popped up worldwide. Protesters claim the richest one per cent are benefiting at the expense of the other 99 per cent.

The protesters parted to let TTC streetcars on Dundas through, but otherwise blocked vehicular traffic.

Earlier, they briefly blocked traffic at Bay and King streets, before heading east on Queen Street and up Yonge Street toward Dundas Square. They reached the intersection of Yonge and Dundas just after 5:30 p.m. and began their sit-in.

Two protests were held earlier Monday — a small gathering in the city's financial district in the morning and a march from the protesters' camp to Ryerson University in the afternoon.

During the morning march into the city's financial district, one protester held a sign that said "Everybody Deserves Their Fair Share." Another protester's sign said "Mother Earth Lives, Capitalism Dies."

Eddie Tilley was among those who gathered outside the TSX during the morning protest. He told CBC News he was protesting a growing economic inequality in Canada.

"The middle class are being squeezed down to where I'm at," he said. "I’m on the bottom rung of life. I'm a poor man. I live off of ODSP [Ontario Disability Support Program] and I pay everything that they give me in rent, so the next stop for me is the garbage bin."

Also on Monday, a group of about 100 demonstrators marched from St. James Park to Ryerson University. They gathered at Ryerson as part of the university's social justice week.

Protesters had camped out overnight in about 50 or 60 tents that have been erected in St. James Park — located at the corner of King Street East and Church Street.

The Canadian Occupy groups take their inspiration from the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has been staging protests in New York for more than a month. The movement is driven by a handful of different issues, including addressing corporate greed and economic disparity.

The protests are the latest in a series of demonstrations that have spread to more than 80 countries.

With files from The Canadian Press