May Day events were planned from distant points in Asia to the local burrito shop Tuesday, with protests threatening to upend evening commutes in New York.
Occupy Westchester took part in May Day rallies, music and teach-ins at Library Plaza in White Plains as part of that movement's nationwide slate of events.
Tuesday afternoon, MTA officials warned New Yorkers that subways and bus lines in lower Manhattan could be delayed by ongoing protests, though a MTA spokesperson said the agency doesn't expect commutes on the Metro-North rail line to be affected.
The loosely organized movement, which sprang from protests in Manhattan's financial district, is calling for protests in cities in Asia, Europe and North America.
Not all events had a political bent. Keep Rockland Beautiful asked residents to join members in munching at American Burrito, 195 South Main St., New City, for a fundraiser.
In Asia, May Day moved beyond its roots as an international workers' holiday to a day of international protest, with rallies demanding wage increases. Marches were planned across Europe over government-imposed austerity measures.
Europeans will take to the streets to protest against the measures that are being blamed for a big increase in the number of unemployed, particularly in Spain where one in four people is out of work.
In the United States, demonstrations, strikes and acts of civil disobedience were planned, including what could be the country's most visible Occupy rallies since the anti-Wall Street encampments came down in the fall.
In Asia, thousands of May Day protesters in the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan demanded hikes in pay that they say has not kept up with rising consumer prices, while also calling for lower school fees and expressing a variety of other gripes.
Television images showed the two leaders happily chatting with participants on the clear-and-cool spring day.
Many banners and placards criticized the opposition movement that has become more prominent in Moscow over the past half-year. One read "spring has come, the swamp has dried up," referring to Bolotnaya (Swampy) Square, the site of some of the largest opposition demonstrations of recent months.
In Asia, the push for wage increases was a common theme.
"It is always the case that low-income groups across Asia feel a disproportionately larger impact of rising prices," said Wai Ho Leong, a Singapore-based economist with Barclays Capital. "Coupled with rising inflation expectations, the case is building to do more for lower income (workers). Minimum wages are one way."
In the Philippine capital, Manila, about 8,000 members of a huge labor alliance, many clad in red shirts and waving red streamers, marched under a brutal sun for 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to the heavily barricaded Mendiola bridge near the Malacanang presidential palace, which teemed with thousands of riot police, Manila police chief Alex Gutierrez said.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III rejected their calls for a $3 daily pay hike, which he warned could worsen inflation, spark layoffs and turn away foreign investors.
Aside from pay hikes, protest leader Josua Mata from the Alliance of Progressive Labor urged Aquino to back proposed legislation against the widespread practices by businesses of contracting out certain operations to other companies to save on costs and preventing workers from organizing trade unions.
Najib's plan for the country's first-ever minimum wage calls for minimum monthly pay of 900 ringgit ($297) for private-sector workers in peninsula Malaysia and 800 ringgit ($264) in two poor eastern states. The move is expected to benefit 3.2 million low-income workers, who account for about a third of the country's workforce.
The protesters marched from a market to the headquarters of Maybank, the nation's largest bank, calling for a minimum monthly wage of 1,500 ringgit ($496) a month.
In Hong Kong, more than 1,000 joined a protest march to demand that the city's minimum wage, which was introduced exactly a year ago, be raised to 33 Hong Kong dollars ($4.25) per hour from HK$28 ($3.60), according to local broadcaster RTHK. They also want the government of the southern Chinese financial hub to implement a 44-hour work week.
In nearby Macau, about 500 people marched for workers' rights and full democracy in the legislature, the broadcaster said.
Tuesday's U.S. protests were the most visible organizing effort by anti-Wall Street groups since Occupy encampments were dismantled last fall. May Day protests have in recent years focused on immigrant rights.
Organizers of Chicago's rally said they welcomed participation from the Occupy groups. "I definitely see it as an enrichment of it," Orlando Sepulveda said. "It's great."
In Los Angeles, at least a half a dozen rallies were planned. A rally was also planned in Minneapolis.
In Atlanta, about 100 people rallied outside the Georgia Capitol, where a law targeting illegal immigration was passed last year. They called for an end to local-federal partnerships to enforce immigration law.
The May Day protest was significantly smaller than last year's, which drew about 1,000 people. Organizers said turnout last year was greater, in part, because the rally was on a Sunday, rather than during the work week.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, service on the Golden Gate Ferry was shut down as ferry workers went on strike. They have been in contract negotiations for a year in a dispute over health care coverage.
A coalition of bridge and bus workers said they will honor a picket line of at least 50 workers outside the ferry terminal. Several Occupy protesters joined them in the protest.
Organizers had backed away from earlier calls to block the Golden Gate Bridge, but scores of police — some carrying helmets and batons — lined the span during the morning rush hour nonetheless.
Some protesters with signs stood nearby, but did not disrupt traffic.
In New York, hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters and their supporters spilled out onto Fifth Avenue in a confrontation with police.
Marchers briefly flooded the avenue and blocked traffic before police in riot gear pushed the crowd back onto the sidewalks. The group chanted: "We are the people. We are united!"
Earlier in the day, activists spread out over the city with Occupy members leading a charge against financial institutions. They faced police lined up in front of Bank of America on West 42nd Street and chanted: "Bank of America, bad for America!"
Julian Kliner, 22, said protesters' main issue with the banking giant is "how many people the Bank of America foreclosed as a result of predatory lending."
Organizers initially called for protesters to block one or more bridges or tunnels, but some protesters said later in the day those plans had been canceled. Occupy activists also had said they planned to bring business to a standstill on May Day. But there was no sign of any major business disruptions. Police said about 30 arrests had been made around the city by Tuesday evening, for such infractions as disorderly conduct.
The protests involved an array of groups and included supporters of immigrants, labor unions and the Occupy movement. Some wore "Justice for Trayvon Martin" shirts.
In the afternoon, several thousand people converged on Manhattan's Union Square with signs, bullhorns and other paraphernalia. Some chanted at passers-by, while others relaxed on picnic blankets in the sun. Through loudspeakers, protest organizers called for an end to corporate greed, housing foreclosures, and war.
The May Day gatherings included nostalgia among those who participated in the Occupy protests last fall. Many at Manhattan's Bryant Park hugged each other, recognizing faces they knew from Occupy's now-dismantled headquarters in Zuccotti Park.
Occupy organizer Mark Bray said the mood had changed since the group's first organized events late last year.
"There was a sense of novelty to Occupy in October," said Bray, 29, a Ph.D. history student at Rutgers University. "Today is more celebratory, and nostalgic."
With Zuccotti Park now empty of encamped protesters, "people still feel the need for that kind of space," he said. "I think the Zuccotti experience touched people — the experience of being there and having a cultural and political outlet."
But 22-year-old Sophia Clark said she believed the loss of Occupy's encampment had ultimately strengthened the movement.
The city broke the Zuccotti camp up in November, citing sanitary and other concerns, but the movement has held smaller events and protests periodically since then, with many members promising a warm-weather resurgence. Tuesday morning, nearby Wall Street was heavily barricaded as office workers streamed by on their way to work.
About 300 teachers and students skipped high school and college classes to hold activist teach-ins in Manhattan's Madison Square Park, Bray said. Earlier, more than 100 protesters walked over the Williamsburg Bridge and filed into a park on the Lower East Side.
After police forced marchers from the street onto the sidewalk, some responded by sprinting away from police, knocking over chairs, garbage cans and throwing cans into the middle of the streets. They threw police barricades into the middle of Broadway in an attempt to impede traffic.
Letters containing a white powder that appeared to be corn starch were sent to some institutions. Two letters were received Tuesday at News Corp. headquarters — one addressed to the Wall Street Journal — and a third was delivered to Citigroup. Their message said: "Happy May Day."
Seven letters were received Monday at various banks and one to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"This is a reminder that you are not in control. Just in case you needed some incentive to stop working," the letters read, according to authorities.
A group also picketed outside New York University to protest the university's expansion plans in Greenwich Village.