Modest crowd turns out for Occupy Mobile rally
By Kim Lanier
MOBILE, Alabama — About 40 to 50 people of all ages turned out in front of Mobile Government Plaza on Saturday morning as Occupy Mobile held a rally to protest corporate greed and the monetary system.
Drivers along Government Street Saturday morning honked horns and shouted in support, and even an ambulance blared its horn briefly as demonstrators waved signs bearing messages such as “Say No To Wealth Influencing Laws,” “End Wall Street Abuse” and “Audit the Fed.”
Rally organizer Jason William Carey of Mobile said the local group has been in existence for about a week, and the rally came together on short notice.
“This was sort of thrown together pretty quickly,” he said.
What he hoped it would do “above all else, (is raise) class awareness,” Carey said.
Victoria Rudolph of Grand Bay said she came to the rally because the nation has serious problems that aren’t being addressed.
“For instance, the monetary system of this country is still in the hands of the people who just about destroyed the world’s economy,” she said.
While many small businesses are hit hard by taxes and forced to close, “the big boys are flying around in jets that they don’t have to pay taxes on, no matter how much profit they make. Everyone can tell the game is rigged. We’re sitting here unable to do anything as things get worse and worse and worse,” she said.
Rudolph said she hoped the rally would help raise awareness, but expressed disappointment at the modest attendance.
Occupy protestors first gathered three weeks ago in Manhattan, where participants in the grass-roots movement blamed banks and major corporations for the country’s economic crisis.
In downtown Mobile, Edward Lawrence of Fairhope handed out a list of things that can be done to limit further harm Wall Street can cause. Suggestions included instituting public funding of congressional campaigns, with private donations limited to $100; breaking up banks that are too large or too interconnected; and changing how Wall Street brokers are paid to remove the temptation to take excessive risks.
“The corporations and the banks just have too much power. There’s not enough effective regulation, and that’s why we got into the situation where the taxpayers had to bail out many of the Wall Street firms,” Lawrence said.
Janet Ripp of Foley called for President Barack Obama to “be the hero we elected him to be” and abolish the Bush-era tax break for people with incomes in the top 1 percent, and return them to a Clinton-era tax rate of about 35 to 39.5 percent. In addition, Obama should close corporate loopholes and large corporate entitlements and sign off on the Patriot Act, she said.
Ken Kronebusch, a Mobile resident and U.S. Army veteran, accused politicians of representing special corporate interests.
“Where’s our representation? That’s all I want to know,” Kronebusch said.
Occupy Mobile held Saturday’s event in conjunction with the Occupy Wall Street group and Occupy Together.
Similar protests were planned around the state over the weekend. Informal rallies also were scheduled in nearly 500 communities globally.