East County residents join protest movement
By Miriam Raftery
October 3, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Inspired by protests organized through social networking sites that led to toppling of Egypt’s government, thousands of protesters have been staging an occupation in New York City since September 17. They seek an end to Wall Street “greed and corruption” according to Www.OccupyWallStreet.org.
Their message has struck a chord with people across the nation who have lost jobs or homes, students, seniors and others who believe their troubles are not been addressed. Posts have spread over Twitter and Facebook, giving rise to occupations in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and Denver. Labor unions including United Steelworkers have joined the cause. Now, a group called Occupy San Diego has announced it will peacefully occupy Civic Center Plaza in downtown San Diego starting Friday, October 7.
Across the countries, the protests have attracted Democrats and Republicans, Libertarians and Greens, all calling for change. Rally organizers note that wealthiest 1% of Americans control 40% of the nation’s wealth; the top 20% control 93% of wealth in AmericaOccupy San Diego states in a release that “We are the 99% and we will be quiet about this economic inequality no longer.”
The group plans to meet at Children’s Park (1st Ave. and Island Ave.) Friday by 3:30 p.m., then march at 4 p.m. to the Civic Center Plaza near City Hall, where it plans to stage an occupation indefinitely until the goals of Occupy Wall Street have been attained. Participants are urged to bring tents or bedrolls, food, water, and layered clothing for rain or shine. The group, which seeks logistical support, also plans a series of meetings and other events.
The effort has drawn support from some East County residents, notably Rancho San Diego resident Raymond Lutz, founder of Citizens Oversight Panels and a former Congressional candidate.
“The Occupy Wall Street movement is sweeping across the country. People from all walks of life, political persuasions and occupations are joining together to demand that our economic system become more just,” states Lutz. “Join our movement. With you, we can bring about change…Now is the time to act,” he added.
Wren Osborne of El Cajon said that she, too, plans to attend. “I plan to be there Friday and would like to go to some of the General Assembly meetings taking place each night before then,” she wrote in an e-mail to ECM.Occupy Wall Street, which blames corporate donations and corruption for the economic meltdown here and around the world, has issued a demand for
President Barack Obama to set up a presidential commission to separate money from politics. Protesters’ messages have included a broader range of issues, from protecting Medicare and Social Security to ending “corporate welfare.”
A White House statement issued by spokesman Jay Carney expressed understanding with the frustrations felt by people over the economic situation. “That’s why we’re so urgently focused—trying to focus Congress’s attention n the need to take action on the economy and job creation, “ Carney said.
Sal Russo, a Tea Party strategist, told Fox News he doesn’t think the protest movement “goes anywhere” and suggested the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have a “Marxist” appeal; he did not elaborate on what led him to that conclusion.
But Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein said the potential is there for "a huge opening for a populist alternative" to the Tea Party. He noted, however, that Occupy Wall Street needs a sponsor. "They're missing money, like the Koch brothers and FreedomWorks" who helped back the rise of the Tea Parties, Gerstein said. "They need someone like a Ross Perot who can just say, 'We're mad as hell and not gonna take it.'"
In New York, protests have been largely peaceful though numerous protesters were arrested for obstructing the Brooklyn Bridge. Some protesters have also charged police brutality, posting video to bolster their claims. Attacks on protesters led to the U.S.Marines being summoned to protect the safety of people demonstrating.
Hollywood celebrities spoke to protesters in New York’s financial district. “There’s a huge void between the rich and the poor in this country,” said actress Susan Sarandon.
Comedienne Roseanne Barr told the crowd that Wall Street financiers are “the people who decimated our economy.
As for the Wall Street Journal, the financial newspaper concludes, “It’s unclear how long the protests will last, or whether they will take hold in the other cities on par with the New York protests,” noting that many events are still in the organizational stages.
A website, www.occupytogether.org, lists protests around the U.S. and as far away as Europe and Australia, the Wall Street Journal reports.