BRIDGEPORT –– The ongoing Occupy Wall Street series of protests, which have spread to from Los Angeles to Boston, made a brief appearance downtown Tuesday as about 30 people turned out in front of the Bank of America building to demonstrate against tax breaks for the wealthy and jobs that are sent overseas.
“We’re here because the Senate is voting today on whether they’re going to raise taxes on the rich and create more jobs for the middle class,” said Andrea Arroyo, an organizer with the public policy advocacy group MoveOn.org. “And it’s time that the wealthy and the corporations paid their fair share.”
Most of those at the gathering only learned about the protest a few hours earlier. Arroyo said, however, that more protests will take place.
“I would love to occupy Bridgeport within the next two weeks,” she said. “We could camp out behind City Hall. Even if I have to do it myself. One spark. That’s how this universe came into being.”
When the protest began at noon, only about a dozen people were present, but the crowd soon swelled to about 30 by the time it was over about an hour later.
“We see our country being stolen from us by greedy politicians,” said Ryan Lee of Bridgeport, who was with his wive and infant daughter.
“The wealthy on Wall Street and the Republican Party like to call this ‘class warfare,’ but we can no longer go on setting the rich against the poor and white against black. We are in this together,” said Mike Cameron of Milford. “I spent eight years of my life defending my country, and I would bear arms to defend it again. We all love our country, but we can’t have a nation that exists just for the enrichment of a few,” said the Vietnam War veteran.
“We are mad because we need jobs, not jobs that are exported overseas,” said longtime community activist Cecil Young. “We need jobs for people who can’t pay their mortgages, jobs for people who can’t stand up for themselves.”
Young, his bullhorn sometimes pointed towards the upper floors of the 16-story office building at 10 Middle Street, urged those with wealth and power to share some of it with others. “We’re not asking you for a handout, we’re not asking you for welfare, we’re asking you for jobs.”
Young said that it’s the working class who made the rich wealthy. “And now that you have what you got, you send all your work overseas. We are proud to be Americans, but we aren’t proud of those who are in power, and who don’t give others the same respect that they themselves have become accustomed to.”
Folksinger Laura Warfield of Fairfield sang her song “The Unemployment Line,” which chronicles the saga of the jobless.
“Well, I’m number seven and I say Earth’s no Heaven if we all can’t share the wealth. The rich get richer and the sick get sicker –– what happened to that national health?” she sang, strumming on her guitar while sitting on a concrete wall in front of the office building.
She continued as the crowd clapped in time: “Well I’m number six, and I’m in a fix –– I can’t even pay my rent. The people with money in this land of honey make up a mighty one percent.”
Some held signs that said “The 99 Percent,” “Don’t Steal Our Future” and “My Mother Taught Me How to Share!”
The anti-Wall Street protests, now in its 25th day in New York, have spread from Portland, Me., to Los Angeles. In Boston, just about an hour before the Bridgeport protest began, about 100 people were hauled off by police in a demonstration that attracted 3,000 people.
Post reporter Vinti Singh contributed to this report. You can reach John Burgeson at 203-330-6403 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow twitter.com/johnburgeson.