Chicagoans Occupy D.C., Representatives' Offices; Officials Avoid Demonstrators (VIDEO)
200 Chicagoans representing the Stand Up! Chicago coalition in Washington, D.C. visited Illinois representatives' offices in groups, seeking an audience to discuss issues including tax breaks, workers' rights and income inequality. Several elected officials, including Rep. Joe Walsh, Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, refused to meet with the visiting Illinois residents, in some cases going to extremes to avoid confrontation.
In the video released by Stand Up! Chicago , Sen. Mark Kirk can be seen hiding in a copy room, Rep. Don Manzullo closes an elevator door on demonstrators and Rep. Joe Walsh leaves his office down a back staircase, ignoring questions and comments even though his staffers had promised he would meet with visitors, according to participants. Walsh later tweeted about the encounter:
Chicago's involvement was matched by representatives from 46 states who visited the offices of 99 Congressmen to discuss inequality issues in alignment with the Occupy movement, according to a Stand Up! Chicago release.
The ongoing "Take Back the Capitol" movement involved sit-ins in the offices of officials who were unresponsive, teach-ins on issues pertaining to the Occupy movement and a march down K Street, where private interests have often lobbied for Congressional support.
On Wednesday, more than five dozen protesters were arrested after K Street was shut down, the Associated Press reports. Sixty-one demonstrators were cited for obstructing the highway and one participant was charged with a misdemeanor for assaulting a police officer.
Many Chicagoans participating are unemployed. Andy Gebel, 56, who has been unemployed for over two years and formerly worked at a call center, has been living on Social Security disability benefits after running out of unemployment insurance shortly after undergoing a liver transplant last year.
"I'd like to see some kind of commitment from [Rep. Walsh] to not cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid," said Gebel, who is unable to afford medical insurance and hopes to receive Medicare benefits in the future. "[Congress] needs to start caring about the majority of the people, not the majority of the money."