In a coordinated nation-wide effort to mark two months of protest and show solidarity with other Occupy groups that have recently been evicted, Occupy DC protesters made their way from McPherson Square to the Key Bridge yesterday afternoon.
"Whose bridge? Our bridge! Whose streets? Our streets," chanted protesters as they marched past high-end M St. stores, in one of D.C.'s wealthiest areas. Shoppers and clerks paused their daily routines to stare at protesters, some laughing and taking pictures, and others looking on with worry.
Despite , the estimated 175 to 300 protestors remained within sidewalks and designated areas of the street, under close watch of a police force of over 100 officers who used motorcycles, horses and patrol cars to maintain order.
But designated lines did nothing to quiet the voices of marchers, who loudly and vocally expressed their discontent.
"I am the economic emergency," said Robin Porter, a 50-year D.C. resident and IT Systems Engineer who has been out of work for three years. "Look at this bridge, it needs fixing before a disaster really happens, and in Wards 7 and 8 there is record unemployment. Yet D.C. residents cannot find jobs. We need jobs right here, and we need them now."
Recently named one of 215 structurally deficiant bridges in the Washington area, in a speech discussing the potential that local infrastructure projects have to create jobs.
Not all concerns were about jobs, many protesters voiced anger at Wall Street and elected politicians.
"We're sick of political leaders who are bought and sold by corporations, and have stopped putting their country and the interests of the people first," said an older protestor who declined to identify himself. "My wife and I are here because we feel we owe it to America's younger generation to stand up for the future."
The Occupy D.C. crowd was supported by several unions, who marched to the Key Bridge in solidarity with the movement.
"We're supporting the Occupy movement because as nurses we're seeing how badly we need an increase in quality healthcare," said Kate Talbot-Minkin, a nurse practitioner who helps run the first aid tent at the Occupy site in McPherson square. "In the ER, we see how unhealthy our population is, and how much need they have. People are unable to pay for health insurance, for basic medications, for life support and interventions."
By late afternoon as the sun set and wind picked up, most marchers returned to McPherson Square. Police at the scene commented that it was a remarkably peaceful march with only a few minor incidents.