On roads slick from a light snowfall, the occupiers went to Washington Tuesday on a full bus from New Haven’s Union Station to participate in Occupy Congress.
The massing of hundreds of occupiers — some from as far as Louisiana and California — was the first time members of the far-flung Occupy movement had gathered, with Occupy DC having filed an application late last month for a peaceable assembly on the National Mall that the occupiers held.
In addition to gathering on one end of the National Mall near the Capitol Complex, the occupiers swarmed into the Complex and over the steps to the Supreme Court. Later, they gathered on the lawn in front of the White House.
“We want to be noticed,” said an Occupy New Haven (ONH) member named “Hugs” hours before she joined other area occupiers in boarding the bus shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday morning for the nearly seven hour trip. “Hopefully, people will realize that we’re serious — that things aren’t right in America,” said the occupier, whose full name is Amanda Taylor and who has participated in ONH from her home in North Stonington.
One person who noticed the occupiers was Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District). She met with some of the ONH’ers extensively in her Washington office, according to a spokesperson there.
Shortly after the visit, the congresswoman affirmed her support for the occupiers, noting that the Occupy movement “has given a voice to the millions of Americans who are frustrated and angry at a time when we are mired in unacceptably high unemployment and such great income inequality.”
“They have made it clear that the American people will not tolerate the preferential treatment of our wealthiest citizens at the expense of hard-working, middle class families. Their concerns are justified,” DeLauro said.
Of the 53 people from New England who went down on the bus, at least 12 came from ONH. Others who rode with them included Occupy Shoreline CT and occupiers from Boston, Worcester, Mass. and the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts.
Hamden resident and ONH’er arrived for the trip with a mélange of signs — one, still damp — for the occupiers to carry when they arrived in D.C. With the weather forecast calling for rain in Washington, she also brought an umbrella, which she carried in the nation’s capital. The message that encircled the umbrella objected to “corporate personhood,” a description inspired by the Citizens United victory last year in the U.S. Supreme Court and a decision that the occupiers vehemently oppose.
“Lots of walking. Lots of chanting,” said Drury of her trip.
She said that Occupy Congress injected the Occupy movement with visibility and energy. “During the march, many people from D.C. joined us. We were definitely noticed,” the activist said.
, who also lives in Hamden and traveled to Washington with her husband, was still hoarse late Thursday from all the chanting. She said she received lots of high-fives and lots of fist-pumps from other passengers when she traveled on the Metro, which is the capital’s rapid transit system, to the Lincoln Memorial.
“It’s the squeaky wheel,” she said when asked what Occupy Congress accomplished. “It can’t be business as usual.”
And New Haven resident David Elkin-Ginnetti, who was among those who met with the Congresswomen, praised the event because the occupiers there could network.
“Networking is the only way the movement will survive. We can't keep thinking we're in a vacuum,” Elkin-Ginnetti said. “Hopefully there will be more coordinated national actions similar to this in the future.”
Elkin-Ginnetti said the ONH’ers asked Congresswoman DeLauro to attend one of their meetings when she is in the district, and that DeLauro said she would try.
Unlike the occupiers who traveled to the nation’s capital by bus, Bick and her husband chose to drive down early. They left on Monday so they could visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the federal holiday dedicated to the man whose legacy is the pursuit of equality in America.
Bick said that Occupy Congress was her first march in Washington and also her husband’s very first march. “He thought it was absolutely incredible. He understood the empowerment of it,” she said.