By B.J. Murphy
February 1, 2012
Washington DC – In response to a call for a nationwide Occupy presence in Washington D.C., thousands joined Occupy Congress, Jan. 17.
People made their way onto the lawn of the Capitol building demanding an end to imperialist wars, condemning the influence of big business on politicians and challenging the system that creates unemployment, increased foreclosed homes and more poverty.
The Occupy protesters were joined by the Veterans for Peace, who called for getting the U.S. out of Afghanistan, South Korea and elsewhere. The anti-war veterans and protesters also demanded an end to the aggressive policies toward Iran.
Tony Ndege, member of Occupy Winston-Salem, stated, “One has to only look at the violence that this Congress has sanctioned its military to commit upon the world to see where they really stand.”
“I didn’t have any hopes for any type of serious legislation being considered or anything game-changing on behalf of our Congress. Why? Because they are part of the problem,” Ndege continued.
By 6:30 p.m. a large mass of protesters marched off the Capitol lawn and began to spread their demands all across D.C. The sound and sight of police sirens could be heard in the streets as the protesters made their way toward the Supreme Court. The Occupy protesters began storming the steps, chanting together, “Money is not free speech!”
Amanda Porter-Cox, another member of Occupy Winston-Salem, expressed her enthusiasm, “The storming of the Supreme Court steps was phenomenal! I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life. It was indescribable.”
A single protester was arrested near the bottom of the steps as the police began insisting protestors leave the Supreme Court immediately. Occupiers then marched on the White House. When they arrived, they chanted “Obama, come out! We have some things to talk about!”
When several protesters began climbing the gates and hanging various banners symbolizing their demands to an end of all wars and for-profit economic policies, the police started closing in. The chants “Who’s House? Our House!” and “We won’t back down!” could be heard.
Then, everyone eventually marched back to the Capitol Building. The police tried rerouting the march, but the protesters pushed through and stayed on their original path.
Commenting on the Occupy Congress event as a whole, Ndege stated, “our government overwhelmingly does not think that they serve us, but that instead we serve them. This is one of those moments where ‘we the people’ sent a serious reply to their out-of-control arrogance and elitism.”
Ndege continued, “I thought the march went beautifully. I know that this will not always be the case the deeper the class tensions grow in the future. Despite the media blackout, the event created a strong buzz within the Occupy community and the actions at the Capitol, Supreme Court, White House, etc. are just the first among many. I am hopeful that, by spring, we will be back 100,000 strong.”