Kai Ryssdal: The Occupy Wall Street protests continue today. They made it all the way to the White House — in question form, anyway, at the president’s press conference this morning.
Barack Obama: I think people are frustrated, and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.
The president said “broad-based” there, which brings us to a website called We are the 99 Percent. It’s protesters who say, in personal detail, how despite doing what everybody says you’ve got do to — get an education, work hard — they’re falling behind while the other 1 percent, the rich, get richer.
Much has been made here and elsewhere of Occupy Wall Street lacking specificity. Of just being against things. So we wondered whether those stories from the 99 percent might provide a clue as to what Occupy Wall Street is for. We sent John Dimsdale to a rally in Washington to find out.
Crowd chanting: Who are we? We’re 99 percent. Who are we? We’re 99 percent.
John Dimsdale: From the sounds of today’s rally on Pennsylvania Avenue, the movement includes people with a whole lot of different demands.
David Barrows was there in a tux, and wearing a plastic pig snout.
David Barrows: I’m protesting the corporate — well, what we got is government by bribery, corporate super-transnational corporate bribery.
Nearby, Sherman Taylor thinks the government should impose a maximum wage. Otherwise, he says, the dispossessed will have to take matters into their own hands.
Sherman Taylor: Every time throughout history that someone gets too poor, they commit crimes against the rich.
To find out who was bringing these various causes together, I asked around for an organizer of today’s rally. I was finally directed to Margaret Flowers.
Margaret Flowers: This was our intention, was to bring together people who advocate on a broad range of peace and social justice issues. Because singly, we’re not able to take on the corporate stranglehold of our political process.
Dimsdale: And the name of the organization is?
Flowers: We are not an organization, there is no organization in charge of this. We’re adamant about that.
Flowers says the non-organization has 15 committees that will identify the crises that face the country.
Flowers: By the end of this, we’re going to come up with a document that addresses each of these crises with specific changes that we want to see. That’s our path that we follow forward to take action to make these things happen.
In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.
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