LOS ANGELES -- "We are the 99 percent" made a comeback in Los Angeles on Tuesday, as approximately 50 people -- including Occupy LA protesters, DREAM Act activists, labor groups and supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul -- rallied against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's arrival to a campaign fundraiser at the Century Plaza Hotel. Holding banners, signs and even a big cardboard Etch A Sketch, demonstrators waited for Romney's motorcade to arrive, and when the campaign cars entered through a backdoor, protesters shouted chants at other cars arriving at the event.
Despite the small turnout for the protest (only about 50 people showed up, and the event was expected to attract 300), the protesters' chants echoed throughout the Avenue of the Stars in Century City, and passing drivers at the busy intersection honked their horns in support throughout the almost two hour-long demonstration.
Esperanza Arizon, a 22-year-old undocumented student from South LA, was there to protest Romney over his claims that he would veto any kind of DREAM Act legislation if he were president. Arizon, who is attending UC Santa Barbara to get a master's degree in International Studies/Development, said she was frustrated that she basically "doesn't exist," in the administrative sense. "Unless this legalization happens," Arizon said, "I'm not going to be able to do what I want for this world, which is to improve quality of life."
But not everyone there was protesting against the "1 percent." Joshua Hunt, 23, stood in front of the hotel with a group of friends holding a large Ron Paul banner. While he chanted about the "99 percent" with members of Occupy LA and Good Jobs LA, a coalition of labor and community groups, he told The Huffington Post, "I don't see America as divided. We can't hate rich people -- we have to fight corruption, not each other." Hunt said he supports Ron Paul over Mitt Romney because he's been "the most consistent" when it comes to the economy and foreign policy. "Everyone in the media ignores him," Hunt said, "but he's going to be our next president."
Across the street from the Century Plaza, at an unrelated press conference organized by the LA County Democratic Party, LA City Councilman Paul Koretz said that a Romney presidency would be "devastating" for Los Angeles and the nation because of Romney's willingness to cut federal funding from state projects.
Koretz told The Huffington Post that the press conference was part of an effort to "discourage" California Republicans from giving to Romney. "While we expect Romney to have no chance of actually winning California," Koretz said, "there's a good chance of him comimg back for many more millions of dollars in contributions."
California is the second-largest source of donations to Romney's campaign, and the third-largest source for a Romney-supporting super PAC, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Miguel Santiago, who is president of the LA Community Colleges Board and attended the press conference, said that the Los Angeles community college system has been kept afloat by the federal funds authorized by President Barack Obama. Community colleges and Los Angeles in general "can't afford" a Romney presidency, Santiago told HuffPost. "He wouldn't support federal funding for community colleges, unlike President Barack Obama, who has consistently said in his speeches that he supports community college funding and the re-building of the American dream through education."
Romney's position on education in general is unclear. Inside Higher Ed notes that education is not listed on the "Issues" section of his campaign website, but that he is a fan of for-profit colleges.
Tuesday evening's protest was just one of the anti-Romney receptions to welcome the former Massachusetts governor as he made stops throughout California. Earlier in the day, DREAM Act activists protested Romney in Irvine, Calif., near one of his fundraisers. Before that, news broke about another setback in which several iPads and laptops with sensitive information were stolen from a Romney campaign car in San Diego.
See photos from Tuesday's protest in the slideshow below.
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