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Democrats, GOP weigh in as "Occupy" movement grows

10-11-2011 10:08 BJT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- As the "Occupy D.C." movement in the U.S. capital of Washington enters its second week on Monday, both the Democrats and Republicans have begun to weigh in, with Democrats backing the movement while high-ranking GOP members calling demonstrators a "mob."

Protestors take part in a march in downtown Washington, the United States, Oct. 8, 2011.
(Xinhua/Wang Fengfeng)

In an email to supporters, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Robby Mook said that protesters are assembling in New York and around the country "to let billionaires, big oil and big bankers know that we're not going to let the richest 1 percent force draconian economic policies and massive cuts to crucial programs on Main Street Americans."

Before the full-on embrace, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed the movement on Sunday. She told ABC's "This Week" that she "support the message to the establishment, whether it's Wall Street or the political establishment and the rest, that change has to happen."

Before Pelosi, when asked about the protests, U.S. President Barack Obama, who is a Democrat, only said that the protests were expression of frustration over the financial sector.

"I have seen it on TV and I think it expresses the frustration that the American people feel," Obama said at a White House press conference on Thursday. "The protesters are giving voice to a more broad based frustration about how our financial system works."

Democrats' endorsement counters the Republicans' disgust at people who occupy public space in New York, Washington D.C. and other major cities around the country, demanding end to corporate rule and shift the country's resources to people's needs.

At a Monday town hall meeting in New Hampshire, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said that the "Occupy" movement came out as people are "seeking scapegoats."

Local press account quoted Romney as saying, "Don't attack a whole class of Americans, whether they're rich or poor, white or black. This isn't the time for divisiveness."

Before Romney, Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader last Friday told conservative activists in Washington that he's " increasingly concerned" by the "growing mobs" at the protests. Herman Cain, another GOP presidential hopeful, said on Sunday on NBC's "Face the Nation" that the demonstrators were "playing the victim card," and "part of it is jealousy."

"I don't have a lot of patience for people who want to protest the success of somebody else," said Cain earlier last week.

While the political elites are arguing the rights and wrongs of the protests, demonstrators themselves remain defiant.

At Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, one of the two epicenters of the "Occupy D.C." movement, demonstrators set up tents and refused to leave after their permit to gather there expired Sunday night. The police extended the permit to Monday, and two officers came by to invite two organizers for a chat Monday afternoon.

Kevin Zeese of Baltimore, MD, a main organizer of the demonstration, told reporters after meeting the police that tents and sleeping bags are all "illegal" as laws don't allow sleeping on public ground.

If police tried to clear them out, Zeese said that he is going to tell them this is public space, and the Constitution's "First Amendment is quite clear, Congress shall make no law abridging our freedom of speech, our right to assembly, to redress grievances."

"We have some grievances," said Zeese. "Homelessness is up. Poverty is up. Income is down. The economic elites have descended this country into a tail-spin. We are in war quagmires around the world. We have some grievances about this corporate rule we are subjected to. Our job is trying to shift away power from corporate rule to the power of people."

As for the "mob" comment, Zeese said the demonstrators were keeping the Freedom Plaza clean and feeding the homeless.

"We are not a mob. we are a citizens doing what has become the most important things in this country. We are people here trying to form a more perfect union," said Zeese. "My response to them is to read the constitution, and come down and have a chat with us. We are glad to talk to them about it. We are glad to tell them what our grievances are."

As the occupation in Washington enters its second week, Zeese said that they've learned in the past few days that when people stand up, they started got listened to.

"When people stand up, more people will stand with them."



Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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