occupy little rock
© John Lyon photoDemonstrators march through the streets of Little Rock on Saturday in a protest organized by Occupy Little Rock.

Little Rock - Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the heart of downtown Little Rock today, protesting against big corporations and government policies they said favor the super rich.

Organized by Occupy Little Rock in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, more than 400 people from across the state gathered at the Riverfront Park amphitheater and set out marching on Markham Street at about 10 a.m., chanting slogans such as "We are the 99 percent and we are too big to fail."

One of the movement's main themes is that power and wealth are disproportionately concentrated among the richest 1 percent of Americans.

The marchers made stops outside the Stephens Inc. building, which also houses the Little Rock chapter of the Federal Reserve Bank, and at Bank of America. At both locations protesters chanted, "We got sold out, banks got bailed out."

They then marched down Capitol Avenue to the state Capitol, where various people gave speeches through a megaphone. Several said they were not promoting anarchy.

"The problem is not that we have government. The problem is that government is run by money," said Leif Hassell of Little Rock, an alarm technician.

"If they can't hear us, they need to clean out their ears," Adam Lansky of Little Rock, a music producer and one of the organizers of the protest, told the crowd.

Most of the speeches and signs targeted corporate greed and power, but some protesters carried signs with other messages, such as "Affordable healthcare now!" and "Boycott foreign products."

The group had hoped to camp out somewhere, in the manner of the Occupy Wall Street protesters who have been camped out in New York for weeks, but organizers said that by today no location for an open-ended protest had been found. After spending about an hour at the Capitol, the group marched back to the amphitheater, then dispersed.

Occupy Little Rock plans to hold a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at the amphitheater and discuss what to do next.

In interviews, protesters said the nation has drifted away from its democratic ideals.

"I feel that the democracy in our country has been replace by plutocracy. The wealthy own everything in our country," said Darci McFarland of Russellville, a student at Arkansas Tech.

"Corporate greed and injustice have taken over our country, and standing up and protesting is the only option that the American people have left," said Damien Freeze, owner of a handyman service in Pine Bluff.

The protest was peaceful as participants, armed with a parade permit, marched through the center of downtown streets with a police escort. Little Rock police had riot control officers on standby because of the nature of the event, but no problems occurred, said police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings.

Opinions of the march varied among spectators.

Clint Milum of Conway said he was all for people exercising their constitutional rights.

"They are expressing their dissatisfaction with the way the government is right now," Milum said as he stood in a crowd waiting to enter an event at the Statehouse Convention Center.

"They can protest, but the government will still be the same," said Kimberly Horton of Little Rock.