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Amsterdam Police Arrest Protesters Occupying ING Branch

Dutch police arrested a group of people who refused to end a protest today in a retail bank branch of ING Groep NV in Amsterdam, and another group that tried to get into a Rabobank Groep NV outlet.

The ING branch, in a historical building in the city center that formerly housed a silversmith, was occupied by about 20 to 25 people, police spokeswoman Chermaine van Damme said over the phone. After they refused to leave, the police swooped in to make arrests, which the protesters didn’t fight, Van Damme said.

The demonstrators, operating under the name “Occupy the Banks,” said their action wasn’t directed at ING specifically and called for other occupations of bank offices as protests by the Dutch Occupy movement weren’t effective.

“We want to end the anti-social and suppressive behavior of banks,” the group said in a statement on its website. “It is a protest against the current economic system as a whole and the role of banks in it in particular.”

The protesters’ arrival trapped about five employees and five customers inside the office. The branch will remain closed for the rest of the day, said Cindy Penders, a spokeswoman for ING, which has 285 branch offices and 550 service points in the Netherlands, according to its website.

“People want to express their discontent and we can understand that,” said Penders. “However, as this affected our customers, we decided to call the police.”

Another group of about 20 demonstrators tried to enter the Rabobank branch at the nearby Dam Square afterwards, Van Damme said. The police made four arrests to prevent them from gaining access. Rabobank is the biggest Dutch retail lender.

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