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US anti-Wall Street groups gather in Washington

07 december 2011, 13:23
Anti-Wall Street demonstrators sit around a tent at the Occupy LA site in downtown Los Angeles. ©AFP
Anti-Wall Street demonstrators sit around a tent at the Occupy LA site in downtown Los Angeles. ©AFP
Under the slogan "Take back the Capitol," thousands of anti-Wall Street protesters and social activists from across the United States will assemble in Washington on Tuesday for three days of rallies, AFP reports.

A series of demonstrations are planned "in the name of the 99 percent" of people that the anti-corporate movement says have been neglected because lobbyists managed to subvert the US political system on behalf of big business.

After city authorities broke up "Occupy" camps across the United States, starting with New York's "Occupy Wall Street" movement that began nearly three months ago, Washington's "Occupy DC" has become the epicenter of such protests.

Around 3,000 people are expected in around 15 tents deemed the "People's Camp" on the National Mall near the massive white dome of the US Capitol, home to Congress, also near the White House.

The site features a "tent of freedom," and a "tent of equality," while unflattering caricatures of corporate bosses can be seen nearby.

"Take back the Capitol" says on its website that thousands of people have signed up for the event, including unemployed and underemployed people from across the United States, community activists, unions and "Occupy" activists.

"There is an economic crisis in the US; we have 14 million unemployed people, corporations are getting fatter and richer, they are not creating jobs, they are not paying their fair share of taxes," said Renee Asher, a spokeswoman with the SEIU service sector union.

"This is all about the 99 percent and the one percent inequality in this country, which has never been worse. We need Congress to represent the 99 percent, and not the one percent."

On Wednesday, an event will be held on K Street, the epicenter of Washington lobbying. On Thursday, protesters plan to hold a day of prayers and speeches from religious leaders.

Organizers say they are preparing to welcome "Occupy" activists who were evicted from camps in cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, New Orleans, Oakland and Portland.

"It's not a one-week commitment... this is a permanent campaign on behalf of unemployed Americans," said AFL-CIO labor union spokesman Jeff Hauser.

"We continue to fight for them and we are going to continue not only in Washington but across the United States to make sure that politicians feel pressure to do the right thing and stand with unemployed Americans."

Washington became the anti-corporate movement's last assured focal point on Sunday, when police arrested 31 protesters and tore down a wooden shelter that was illegally erected at the "Occupy DC" site in McPherson Square.

Following New York's Zuccotti Park eviction in November, police cleared out protesters in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

There have also been evictions in Dallas, New Orleans, Oakland and Portland, and some clashes with police.

With its numbers of sites in obvious decline, the "Occupy" movement, which began in New York in mid-September, appears to be searching for new targets as it aims to remain relevant heading toward next year's presidential election.

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