News / USA

    Hundreds of Unemployed Storm Capitol Hill to Meet with Congress

    Jeff Swicord

    Thousands of Occupy Congress activists have decended on Washington this week to press their agenda of jobs and a fair economy for all.  The three days of protests and events was kicked off by a visit to Capitol Hill where hundreds of constituents demanding meetings with their members of Congress.  They are angry about the lack of progress on a jobs bill and a host of other economic issues.  

    At 9 a.m., they assemble on Washington’s Mall.  More than 1,000 unemployed and underemployed Americans from across the country.  They have come to Washington to pressure Congress for more action on job creation and an extension of unemployment benefits.  Jeremy Collins is from Columbus Ohio.

    "If any politician would walk by, you could see that there is a lot constituents out here," said Jeremy Collins," who is unemployed. "There are a lot of people here who are registered voters.  And if they want to get elected they need to listen to the people."

    This week’s events are sponsored by a coalition of organizations and labor unions that say Congress has not done its part to create more jobs.  But some believe it will take more than jobs legislation and unemployment extensions to fix America’s economic problems.  Ryan Isabel is from West Palm Beach, Florida.

    “I think the message needs to escalate to more major reform," said Ryan Isabel. "More sincere drastic changes to the operation of our economy and our society and our systems of government.”

    VOA followed more than 20 constituents from South Florida as they tried to meet with Representative Allen West, a conservative member of the Tea Party.  They and hundreds of others plan to drop in on congressional offices unannounced, and demand a meeting with their representatives.   For most, this is their first time in Washington and the first time they have tried to meet with their member of Congress.

    When they arrive, they are told the congressman is out, but will be back to two hours.  They are told to wait out in the hall.  As the staff member leaves, the group decides to wait inside the office anyway.  Holly Albert is among them.

    “So we are going to wait here for two hours until Allen West speaks, gives in and speaks to us," said Albert. "And so we are going to talk about an array of problems in which we hope that he can pull his heart strings and concede to our needs.”

    But the congressman’s staff is clearly annoyed.  Eventually the chief of staff shows up along with two Capitol Hill police officers.

    “Do you have an organized group here?  Do you have a supervisor?," asked a policeman.

    The staff member and officer ask to meet with two members of the group in private.  They soon return to report to the group.

    “Three of us can stay here in this room," said a constituent. "And the rest of us have to move to the hallway.”

    The congressman will only meet with three of them for 10 or 15  minutes.  The rest must leave or risk arrest.  Some are shocked to learn the congressman can refuse to meet with constituents.

    “The congressman is not refusing," said a staff member. "The congressman is meeting with individuals that have said they are the leaders of your group.”

    Representative West eventually met with four constituents.  We were told they did not agree on anything.  For many it was a tough lesson on just how difficult compromise in Washington has become.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora