Yesterday saw a truly massive rally in New York as students and unions joined the occupation en mass. Estimates range for the rally, from a few thousand up to twenty or fifty thousand, but this picture says it all.

There were a number of arrests today, along with another release of ugly footage featuring another white-shirted police officer. This time the weapon of choice was a rather large police baton, swung wildly with both hands. Pepper spray is also rumoured to have been used, and there’s even been reports of live broadcasts from within police vans.

These protests are now spreading across the United States. Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and a growing list of others are now beginning their own occupations. In Canada, occupations are due to begin at the end of next week in many major cities such as Toronto.

News coverage has exploded. From being a very small issue, the persistence and growth of the movement is now capturing the world’s attention. Some are using terms like “American Autumn”. Police brutality has only added fuel to this fire, as have scornful comments from Republican Nominees, and TV Personalities. CNN’s Erin Burnett attempted to make protesters look clueless by asking them if they knew that the bank bailouts had “made money for the American government”. The protesters she interviewed didn’t know that, of course, because it’s blatantly untrue, and now she’s none too popular. Endorsements keep rolling in, and though there’s been a pretty obvious and visible shift to the left from some of the prior online anti-bank activism, it’s impressive how many endorsements they’re getting from across the spectrum of American society, even congress.

It isn’t just Wall Street, either. Protests have been erupting around the globe. Did you know that over 200 people were arrested at the Parliament buildings in Ottawa on the weekend? They were protesting the new Keystone Pipeline, an issue which recently saw over a thousand arrests at the White House. Also, Greece had another General Strike yesterday, against the failing austerity measures, complete with its own clashes with police.

For Wall Street, of course, barricades are nothing new. Markets have been shaken since the spring by European debt crises and faultering American and Chinese economies. This week most of the world’s major indexes just barely bounced above their yearly lows, and it’s all beginning to look disturbingly like 2008 all over again. October’s always a big month for stocks, so things could go either way, but there’s now a distinct possibility of a major market “event” while protesters are camped out nearby. How would the American public take millions of layoffs, foreclosures and another round of bailouts? Not very kindly, I suspect.

All of these protests, of course, still have a long way to go, but they’re closing that distance fast. With unrest rapidly spreading, uncertain economic futures and fantastic new technologies, there’s really no telling where they’ll go from here. The worldwide embrace of horizontal organizing tactics, direct democracy and critical thinking is happening faster than anybody could have predicted. We can only hope that, in these desperate times, it makes a difference.