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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs