Occupy DC campaign begins with demands to end militarism and for economic justice
CROWD: This is what democracy looks like!
Show me what democracy looks like!
CROWD: This is what democracy looks like!
CROWD: –the war, tax the rich!
[incompr.] Obama [incompr.]
CROWD: End the war, tax the rich!
DAVID DOUGHERTY, TRNN: Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Washington, DC, on Thursday, October 6, to participate in the Stop the Machine protests. Demonstrators assembled in Freedom Plaza before marching through the streets of downtown DC, passing by the White House and Chamber of Commerce along their route. The protesters denounced corporate influence in US politics and the wealth concentrated in the hands of one percent of the population.
CROWD: Hey hey! Ho ho! Corporate greed has got to go!
ELLEN DAVID, ORGANIZER: I’m here today because the 99 percent have decided that it’s time to take back our government, that our government is being run by corporate interests, our society is run by corporate interests, our economy is run by corporate interests. The corporate interests have an interest in creating wars abroad from which they make great profits and into which all of our resources drain so that social services are being cut.
DOUGHERTY: The event was timed for the ten-year anniversary of the occupation of Afghanistan and was loosely organized by a number of progressive grassroots organizations. Author and activist David Swanson helped to organize the event. He says people are upset at the government for allowing itself to be corrupted by powerful financial institutions and for diverting money towards military spending rather than social investments.
DAVID SWANSON, AUTHOR AND ACTIVIST: The threat of foreign wars boosts corporate profits by ensuring their ability to exploit the resources, including the human resources, of other nations. And the military and Wall Street have been aligned for many years in wanting to get their hands on our social safety net, on our Social Security and other funds, to move them into the military and to privatize them for Wall Street, whereas our agenda as people consists of wanting to make those super-wealthy pay their fair share, and to keep the money where it belongs, and to take it out of the military, where we’re now putting 65 percent of discretionary spending into the military and the war machine, and nobody talks about it, not the members of Congress and not the protesters. Everybody else, jobs not cuts. Well, to hell with that. We want cuts. We just want the cuts to come out of the biggest piece of government spending, the war machine.
DOUGHERTY: The official US total unemployment rate rose to 16.5 percent in September. A number of protesters expressed frustrations at growing inequality, attacks on organized labor, mounting student debt, and a lack of employment opportunities for a large number of people living in the United States.
RON KIPLING WILLIAMS, ACTIVIST ARTIST: We’ve seen the suppression of workers in America. But now those lines of demarcations in terms of the class structure have dissolved, and now we see clearly that the workers have been oppressed, are being exploited all over this country. So I think that people are finally waking up, they’re finally starting to see the light. We just have to push harder to–for them to understand that this is a human rights issue, that we have–we all have a human right to food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care.
HURI KOUZOUYAN, UNEMPLOYED: Personally, I’m dealing with a large amount of debt from universities, and I’m pretty sure that that is a major issue for a lot of people right now.
STEPHANIE, DEMONSTRATOR: I can personally relate to people who are struggling financially. I’ve never had a problem finding a job, but currently I’m only working part-time. I’d like to work full-time. So I can really relate to, you know, a lot of people’s kind of plight for that.
EVE, DEMONSTRATOR: We want to see more equality amongst people. We want to see people being able to survive on their own, to have a job, to regain their pride, regain stability. This has gone way too far, and we are–the whole world is going under.
DOUGHERTY: Organizers and participants in the mobilization say people are inspired by the wave of revolutions and occupation movements that have sprung up across the world in 2011. Sarah Manski traveled to Washington from Wisconsin as part of a group that participated in Thursday’s action. She suggests a growing number of people are being motivated by actions like the Wisconsin Capitol occupation of earlier this year because of a lack of confidence in electoral politics and the Democratic Party.
SARAH MANSKI, LIBERTY TREE FOUNDATION, WISCONSIN WAVE: This is something new, because people have–they voted for Obama, they expected change, and they got more of the same. And people realize that through being completely outspent by corporations, they are not going to effect any change through voting and have given up on all so-called legitimate processes. And the last thing we have left is disruption and occupation, and that’s what we’re doing.
SWANSON: Well, we always have an election coming up in a year or two or three, even if we only pay attention to presidential elections, and I don’t think that should distract us. This is not about parties, not about candidates, not about elections. This is about building awareness that people can bring their majority demands to their government at any time, at any place, regardless of elections, regardless of parties and candidates. This is building an independent, non-electoral movement. And the benefits to elections from that will be significant. You will have better candidates, better debates, better elections. But it can’t be about that to begin with. It has to be independent.
DOUGHERTY: Protesters have vowed to continue organizing against United States militarism and economic injustice. There are currently more than 200 Occupy Wall Street solidarity actions that have popped up across the country, as people assert their collective demand to hold the corporate sector accountable to the United States public. This is David Dougherty with The Real News Network.
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