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'Occupy' Protest Moves to Walnut Creek

Some 200 demonstrators make points about corporate political ties and inequities.

With protest signs and chants ringing through downtown Walnut Creek, an "Occupy" group Wednesday evening expressed its frustration with inequities and corporate ties to the country's political elite.

Clyde Rich of Rossmoor decried "a toxic politics that is not only destroying the economy but the government and the American dream."

The demonstration seemed to peak at 4:30 with three short speeches (including one by Rich) that drew about 125 people to the sidewalk in front of the Bank of America on North Main Street. At the same time, a stone's throw away, about 40 protesters each waved signs on two corners of Main Street and Mount Diablo.

"The corporations and the wealthiest people, they don't pay taxes," said Kathy Colliau of Walnut Creek, on one corner. "When prices go up, it's the 99 percent that suffer … I'm not poor, but I see it's unfair. It's worse for my (adult) children … I can't imagine what their economic future is."

It appears that globalization has aggravated society's gap between the wealthiest and the majority of people, Colliau said.

A recurring chant was "Hey, hey, ho, ho, corporate greed has got to go."

A sampling of protest signs:

  • Banks got bailed out. People got sold out.
  • There's enough for everyone's need, but not everyone's greed.
  • Eliminate corporate campaign funding.
  • Human needs, not BofA greed.
  • How is the war economy working for you?

The Occupy Wall Street movement has moved way beyond Wall Street in the last month. In Northern California, it has pushed out to the suburbs. Coinciding with the Walnut Creek demonstration was .

"The collusion between business and government needs to be challenged," said another speaker, Ken Richard of Walnut Creek. Richard said Occupy Wall Street Walnut Creek planned to hold another protest in the same place at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Last Friday, Richard and his activist colleague, Kathy Klein, had lunch at a Chinese restaurant and started talking over ideas for a Walnut Creek protest.

"All the buzz was about Occupy Wall Street," said Richard. Wednesday's action in downtown Walnut Creek came together with emails and Facebook and tweets, and some media contacts, Richard said: "It's an organic movement." Richard said his own activism goes back decades to age 16 in his native Miami working on gay rights.

The activists who showed up were moved by "an inner voice that made us care," said Richard. Although political opponents portray the Occupy movement as an "unruly mob" with an unclear agenda, Richard said the movement has salient issues that move its compassion for:

  • 24 million who are unemployed and underemployed.
  • 50 million who have no health care.
  • 15 million who owe more money on their homes than they are worth.
  • 46 million Americans who are in poverty and the working poor.

"We're here today," said Richard. "We are the majority — 99 percent … we are not against capitalism; we are against corporate greed."

Rich, a former head of the Rossmoor Democratic Club, said he represented the senior citizen segment of the 99 percent (referring to the growing gap between the wealthiest 1 percent in the country and the other 99 percent).

"I thought my demonstration days were over and I could sit back and relax," said Rich. "But because today's political situation is so unjust, I realize I can't be silent."

Michael Veiluva of Concord spoke briefly in front of Bank of America. He urged activists that "organizing has to happen immediately." A group that formed Sunday in an informal meeting in Concord — Contra Costa 99 Percent — is looking for stalwarts to join, he said.

Jackson October 13, 2011 at 05:16 AM
Ha! I was right. Same losers from Rossmoor on Fridays. Astroturff ! Pure Astroturf ! Try Occupying a Job!
Jackson October 13, 2011 at 05:19 AM
200? C'mon guys. We all know it was about 50, and as soon as the early bird special hit they evaporated. BTW, how long until HuffPo folds?
Curtis October 13, 2011 at 06:01 AM
C'mon!!! This story posts after everyone goes to bed. LANCE pull your head out of the sand. You've had plenty of notice and should have been ready. Had this of been a Tea Party event the story would have broke hours ago. It may not mean much to you but it means a lot to many others. Ignorance is bliss.
Tristan October 13, 2011 at 02:47 PM
So how does having a temper tantrum on Main St. put more money in the protester's pockets?
Jackson October 13, 2011 at 05:41 PM
It must pain them to hold those flags. Notice they're the smallest they could find and all made in China. With a Dem Gov, and both houses in sacramento that is where they should be asking their buddies to give them a free house and a state credit/debit card. But no, they won't be happy until there is blood in the streets.
Zachary October 13, 2011 at 07:29 PM
This should be pretty simple to understand. We can vote out politicians but not banks and corporations. With the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission ruling that corporations can start donating money to campaigns the little guy's voice becomes muted. Since when is a corporation a person that's eligible to vote? Money is a poor substitute for knowledge and understanding.
Chris Nicholson October 13, 2011 at 07:32 PM
How about a counter-protest of "We are the 53%" (who pay taxes)?
Zachary October 13, 2011 at 07:50 PM
I promise you that an overwhelming amount of those 47% would love to pay taxes right now.
Chris Nicholson October 13, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Great. Let's flatten the rate structure and reduce the size of government. Remember: evil corporate non-persons are motivated to get a bigger slice of pork from the Big Government pie. If we flatten taxes, eliminate loopholes/special interest subsidies and shrink the size of the pork barrel, the OWS crowd should have less to gripe about, right? If corporations got no tax breaks / contracts / corporate welfare, would they still be evil? Or is all success evil?
Jackson October 13, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Starbucks barrista's don't make enough to pay taxes and these people don't look the type to do much more than that. I do see that a majority of them are overweight - some very. Can't be doing too bad for themselves if they can eat enough to get that way.
Zachary October 13, 2011 at 09:18 PM
I do agree that government needs to be slimmed down. We need to recognize also that as society, corporations and everything in between expands the government should bulk up. So success is tax breaks, contracts and corporate welfare. The money that they don't need given to them by the tax payers could be used more importantly. Big business continues to make record profits on the backs of Americans while refusing to bring jobs home or create new jobs. I don't know where your getting the word "evil".
Joanna October 13, 2011 at 09:29 PM
I am part of the 53% who pays taxes AND also part of the 99%, as are most of us in this country. I am also one of the people who was part of the protest in downtown Walnut Creek yesterday. Contrary to these and earlier posts, I am neither unwashed, a hippy, a marxist, a lunatic, a loser, a resident of Rossmoor, or a senior that goes to bed early (I am a senior), altho' if I were, SO WHAT!!! I do not want a free ride - I have never received any money from any gov't agency - or a free house. I also held one of the flags, all of which were Made in America, and I am very patriotic.... I love this country with all my heart! We were a diverse and respectful, CLEAN, mostly not overweight group who enjoyed talking to the police officers watching us demonstrators. Contrary to some at Tea Party demonstrations in the past, we weren't carrying guns OR carrying threatening signs that we'll use second amendment means to get our way. I have a question. Why do so many of you on the right have the need to insult anyone who doesn't agree with you? It's so unnecessary.
Zachary October 13, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Right on
Chris Nicholson October 13, 2011 at 10:00 PM
Maybe you didn't mean "evil," but your clearly implied "problematic." Your posting is confusing. Are you in favor of bigger or smaller government? What if everyone kept more of the money they earned? Would that be bad? Does anyone "owe" you a job? If so, why? What do you mean exactly when you say businesses "refuse" to create jobs? Why don't you start a business and create jobs? If not, why are YOU "refusing?"
Chris Nicholson October 13, 2011 at 10:03 PM
My only point is: the claims/demands of the OWS crowd make no sense. If regard "you don't make sense, please explain/defend yourself" as an insult, then I apologize. Even if an insult, I would still like an explanation of what exactly these folks are speaking out against. Much of it sounds like empty populist slogans.
Joanna October 13, 2011 at 10:09 PM
Chris,I don't consider questions insults at all. I was at the demonstration not because I don't want corporations to make a profit, I do. What I don't want to see is the difference in income between what the top 1% are making continue to increase, as the income of the other 99% continues to decrease. We are already at the biggest disparity in income since the 1920's, and history tells us what happened in 1929. The middle class is the strength of a democracy, and every day we lose thousands more to poverty. Without a vibrant middle class, we lose our country. I also want to get all money out of politics, and return our democracy/republic to "We, the People." The only way we can do that is to go back to how it was in the Reagan years and before, when he and his 2 opponents paid $0 to run a Presidential Campaign. This coming election cycle we're going to pay billions country-wide to all the candidates, most of the money coming from the rich special interest groups. Unfortunately, that makes the politicians beholden to those rich donors, and forget "We, the People," which is exactly what has happened. It's going to take a law to do that, probably along the lines of publicly financed campaigns, which aren't popular until people realize they're spending so much more out of their tax dollars than they would with publicly-financed campaigns to pay off those donors. Whatever it is, we need something like that to get big money out of politics in order to save our wonderful country.
Chris Nicholson October 13, 2011 at 10:24 PM
I agree with your objectives, but we may disagree on strategies to get there. I think a lot comes down to incentive alignment. I think it is unfair for businesses to spend Millions on campaigns in order to influence Billions in contracts and subsidies. But for so long as the multi-billion dollar pot of gold is there, you will never stop people from spending money trying to get at the goodies. Solution: radically reduce the size of the goodie bag (government budget) and the ability of politicians to dole it out in uneconomic ways. It is unfair for a few special interests to weigh down the economy with wasteful and inefficient programs that hurt most Americans (e.g., ethanol subsidies or "green energy" spending). There needs to be a better feedback loop--- back to the origins of our representative democracy. I agree with you there. So, in that spirit, should those who pay no taxes have a vote in "tax the rich" laws? What is the end game in such a system? In terms of distribution of wealth, I think you would see more middle-class opportunity and class mobility if government got out of the business of picking winners and losers and protecting those that have "already won." Less regulation, more open competition and no bailouts are your friends here. The big guys can deal with red tape, pay union wages, hire lobbyists, etc. Let's radically lower the "entry barriers" for entrepreneurs. That's where the 1%'ers of tomorrow will come from.
Tim October 16, 2011 at 08:30 AM
Anyone notice the what a "diverse" group this is? Every single picture on this article is a bunch of white 1960's hippie retreads.
Tim October 16, 2011 at 08:33 AM
It's also ironic that they think they represent the 99% that aren't the super rich. I'm not in the top 1% but you left wing moveon.org nuts do not represent me. Perhaps you represent the 48% of the population that contributes ZERO in federal income taxes. The top 1% on the other hand foot 20% of the bill.
Marty Loggins October 16, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Yeah! Dirty hippies.
Marty Loggins October 16, 2011 at 01:41 PM
Probably illegal aliens too. Latte drinking, Prius driving, protesting illegals! Try getting a job dirty hippie illegals.
Marty Loggins October 16, 2011 at 01:42 PM
They're pathetic. I doubt if any of them have jobs or watch Fox.
Bergie October 17, 2011 at 12:41 AM
Protesting rampant unemployment by protesting against the COMPANIES WHO HIRE PEOPLE! OK.....time to say "get off the bong"! And the lady quoted who said that "The corporations and the wealthy people....they don't pay taxes". HELLO?? Time to put down the bong hippie woman. The 53% upper income people in the country PAY ALL THE TAXES!! And how about protesting against GE (Obama's buddy) who pay 0 in taxes? Oh, but they make flourescent lights, which will save the world from hitting 212 degrees some day, so we won't hold GE accountable. May I suggest holding the next O.W.S. protest rally at the Planetarium in S.F.? A little bong action.....some Pink Floyd......a little tie-dye?? It'll be like the 60's all over! And you can cross out Wall St. and write in "Vietnam War"!!
Mom of the Horde October 17, 2011 at 07:08 AM
They were protesting in front of Bank of America, which not only received bail out money, but has also off-shored hundreds of jobs to places like India and Costa Rica. They're not really hiring many people... matter of fact they're getting ready to lay off thousands more employees.
Brad Heckman October 21, 2011 at 12:52 AM
No use arguing with the frightened clueless hippy-punching Limbeck listeners. Just feel compassion and try to comfort them. Eventually you will not be able to find them, just like you can't find anyone who voted for Nixon ;-)
Paul R. Haller May 04, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I was there, I have had a job for the last 28 years and I am angry at the injustices I see in America. I am angry because if we work all our lives and retire we can't afford to get sick. I am angry because we spend so much money on war and it comes out of our pockets and away from social programs. Now we are talking about cutting social security. When will it end? What kind of world do we leave for our children? I protest because if I don't, what will be left for future generations?

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