WASHINGTON — More than 300 protesters marched on the White House on Tuesday to invite an absent President Barack Obama to side with the Occupy movement, after police raids on camps in New York and other cities.
“We would like to welcome him to the movement,” chanted the energetic but peaceful crowd from Occupy DC, amplifying a statement from a young male protester at the front of the procession.
Recalling that Occupy DC is situated in nearby McPherson Square, the marchers — mostly unaware that the US president was, at that very hour, flying to Australia — shouted: “We’re just down the street! Join us!”
Unlike New York and other major US cities, Washington has been tolerant of not one, but two encampments that are home to protesters decrying social inequality and what they say is excessive corporate influence on US politics.
Local police escorted Tuesday’s march through evening rush hour traffic, and just two uniformed Secret Service agents were in position along the black iron fence on the north side of the White House when the protesters turned up.
Earlier in the evening, a third of the marchers burst into the lobby of a building housing the Washington offices of Brookfield Properties, owners of the Manhattan park where Occupy Wall Street had until Tuesday been centered.
“We are here to let them (Brookfield) know that we are the 99 percent and that we are here to occupy for a very long time,” shouted the crowd as police and security guards kept to the side.
After 10 minutes, the marchers moved on to the headquarters of the US Conference of Mayors, shouting “shame” at the names of mayors — including New York’s Michael Bloomberg — whose cities have cracked down on Occupy protests.
Triggering the demonstration was a raid by New York police in the early hours of Tuesday that demolished the Occupy Wall Street encampment and threw the two-month-old nationwide protest movement into crisis.
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