99% March On K Street To Take Back The Capitol From The 1%

I am in DC covering the Take Back the Capitol “99 in DC” events. On Tuesday I wrote about the efforts of unemployed people and others to get in to talk to their senators and representatives. (Watch some of them tell their stories.) On Wednesday they marched to “K Street” – the symbolic ground zero of the corporate takeover of our democracy. But first…
When I was waiting to get on the plane to come here the jetway was backed up. Now that the airlines are charging $25 just to check a bag, everyone brings their bags on and tries to cram them into the limited on-plane carry-on space. But of course, the airlines aren’t paying the flight attendants more because of the extra work this causes. So this guy come pushing his way down the left side, shouting, “First class, out of the way, first class, let me through,” because he missed boarding first, and he was entitled to already be on the airplane and not have to wait in the line like the rest of us.
The rest of us are supposed to walk past the already-seated, first class passengers, eyeing their large, comfortable seats, while they sip their champagne mimosas, and look important and … rich. We’re supposed to envy them, and hope to eventually be among them. But until then we are supposed to be grateful that they “create jobs” and allow us to serve them. This is America today.

Why Occupy?

Outrages like this been getting worse and worse, and have reached a breaking point, with many of us unemployed — because actually, the rich don’t “create jobs, WE do! So the rest of us — the 99% — have been getting mad about things like this for a long time, and are finally starting to show it, now that things have gotten so bad. Across the country people are “occupying” places and ideas that have been taken over by the 1%. They are letting themselves get angry about the things that have been happening, the change from democracy to plutocracy, the way the big corporations and Wall Street now make the rules while they don’t themselves have to follow the rules.
Not only has our Congress come under the control of the 1%, they have done very little to help the 99% through this crisis that was caused by the 1%. This Congress — the first since the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court — has done nothing to create jobs while doing a lot to kill jobs, and worse, at the end of this year extended unemployment benefits run out and 2 million people will lose their entire income.

Take Back The Capitol

So this week Take Back the Capitol brought unemployed people and others to Washington to confront their members of Congress and the lobbyists on “K Street” that they work for, to demand a change. Today they marched on K Street, the center of lobbying activity. CAF intern Sean McMartin was observing and writes,

On December 7, 2011, a date 70 years after Pearl Harbor, another piece of history was made. Supporters of the American Dream Movement and several other organizations from all over the country marched from the National Mall up to K Street in Washington. They came to protest their outrage with the rich, corporations, and the special interests, many of which have lobbyists with offices on “K Street.” They shouted they were the 99% of the country, who have not fared well over past few years with high unemployment and stagnated wages.
Just before noon the people from the Take Back the Capitol came to the intersection of 16th and K Street, which became the epicenter of the protest. Occupy DC, which happened to be camped only a block away, saw what was happening and came out of their tents to join the protest. Then a group came marching from the west, too, as Occupy DC came from the east. The coordination was something to see in real time and represented several groups coming together from all over the place.
The police had to use their cars to block off a perimeter for the protest that involved 14th Street to 17th Street and I Street to L Street. Even policemen on horses,not seen often in Washington, were used as a show of force. There was no violence from what I could see, but a good old protest where people come together to show their outrage with the status quo.
Pedestrians going to lunch stepped out of their offices to witness history in the making. They took out their cameras and smartphones to record history as it happened and some even shouted their support for the movement.
After 1 pm city workers and police ordered the protestors onto the sidewalks and of the streets. The protestors slowly but surely followed and cleared the streets as were told.

Politico reported:

Wednesday morning, protesters organized by the ADM swarmed the headquarters of major corporations and financial institutions including Verizon, General Electric, Capitol Tax Partners, the American Bankers Association and the financial lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford.
A labor organizer said the protesters targeted corporations and lobbying groups representing companies that have paid more in executive compensation and lobbying in recent years than they’ve paid in taxes, citing a recent study by Public Campaign.
Hundreds of protesters from around the country converged on Verizon’s headquarters, chanting slogans like, “whose street — our street” and “shame on Verizon, pay your fair share.” Verizon employees and building staff looked on from the building lobby as protesters swarmed by.
Protesters also marched around the front of the American Bankers Association, where extra security had been put in place to prevent outsiders from getting into the building.
About 20 protesters were in the lobby of the Capitol Tax Partners’ building for a brief time, according to a source in the building.
Also on Wednesday, activists aligned with the Occupy D.C. movement based in McPherson Square marched to protest the Podesta Group, one of the city’s most powerful lobby shops, which has close ties to the Obama administration.

Here is a collection of photos and videos from the action at K Street (click through for videos)::

Click here to tell House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: Stop sabotaging the economy. Quit obstructing extensions of the payroll tax cut and long-term unemployment insurance.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Unemployed Confront Congress At Take Back The Capitol

Today thousands of unemployed people and others came to D.C. to tell Congress and “K Street” that they need jobs not cuts; that we should tax the rich, and that unemployment benefits must be extended before they run out at the end of the year.
I am in Washington to join them at the Take Back the Capitol “99 In DC” event. This is not the OccupyDC group, but it is supportive and very much like the Occupy group, with “Mic Check” and “We are the 99%” and “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out” chants going on everywhere. (Special note: There are no drum circles!)
The center for the activities is a series of large tents on the Mall in front of the old Smithsonian building. There is a stage for entertainment in the evening, a food tent with GREAT food, a New Media tent, a Peacekeepers tent, and other facilities. The event is organized by a number of groups, including the Service Employees International Union, along with local groups around the country. I talked to several people who came out from Idaho last night who organize food distribution and other services for poor and unemployed people, and they had stories about the terrible way unemployment is affecting people there.
Today people gathered in the morning in groups to prepare to visit members of Congress. There were three tents where groups gathered. There was the A-G tent, the H-O tent and the P-Z tent. I was joining the group that was heading over to Rep. Darrell Issa’s office, and thought it was appropriate that we would meet in the H-O tent because he is such a big corporate … well, you know.
Anyone Can Visit
A lot of people don’t realize it, but anyone can visit the office of any member of Congress. You can come to D.C. and locate your member of Congress’s office and go in and say you live in that district and want to say, “Hi.” Or say other things. They work for you. Everyone in our delegation was from California, which is why Rep. Issa was chosen for a visit.
The group walked in the rain down the mall to the Capitol and turned right to the Rayburn building where some of the members of Congress and various committees are located. We had to pass through security which involved putting any bags and computers through an X-ray machine, and walking through a metal detector. We didn’t have to take off our shoes.
Rep. Issa’s Office
The group collected and went to Issa’s office, walked right in, and asked to see the Congressman. He was over at the Capitol, an aide said she would speak with the people there, but the people wanted to see Rep. Issa himself. She asked if the group could please move to the hall, and they said they would wait right there, thank you. After some back and forth, please clear a path for visitors, please move to the hall, I’ll meet with you instead, etc., she called the Capitol Police who said that the office had requested them to please leave. So they left the office and waited in the hall.

After a while the group decided to leave a few people at Issa’s office and head over the another California Congressman’s office, Rep. Dan Lungren. They arrived at Lungren’s office, same story, we want to meet with the Representative, the aid said she would talk with them, no thanks we want to talk to the Congressman himself, etc. But this office did not call the Capitol Police, and they were especially nice, even bringing water and coffee. (Pretty good coffee.)
Meanwhile Rep. Issa showed up at his office, demanded that the people there show ID to prove they are from his district. One of them was, but she pointed out that Issa gets campaign money from donors and corporate PACS from all over the country, and that his committees represent the entire country, so why wouldn’t he talk to citizens. He said no, booted them from his office, and took off.
This is going on in offices of dozens of members of Congress today, demanding that the 99% and the unemployed be heard, just as much as the corporate donors and billionaires be heard. They are asking for unemployment benefits to be extended, and for infrastructure projects that will employ millions and improve the economy, providing jobs for the long term. They are asking Congress for legislation to allow judges to “cram down” mortgage amounts so people do not lose their homes. They are asking for tax increases on the rich and new taxes on Wall Street speculation to pay for essential services so those services do not have to be cut.
Tomorrow they are going after K Street.
This is a slide show of pictures so far:

I also have videos with stories told by people about their situations, and will be posting those in their own posts later. Stay tuned.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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