Occupy DC strikes at heart of lobbyists’ hub

Up to 70 arrests have been made in Washington DC after the police dispersed a mass demonstration only walking distance away from the White House. “Occupiers” blocked downtown streets to protest against high unemployment and corporate bailouts.

­Hundreds of protesters from Occupy DC and other groups with similar aims targeted K Street NW, home to the headquarters of some of the city’s largest lobbying firms.

The demonstrators say the lobbyists represent corporations which, along with the country's richest people, the so-called “1 per cent”, have too much of the nation's power and wealth.

The non-profit organization Public Campaign revealed in its report that the 30 big corporations paid more to lobby Congress than they paid in federal income taxes for the three years between 2008 and 2010, despite being profitable.

Wednesday’s demonstration  – “Day of Action: Occupiers Unite” – was attended by around 4,000 people, according to RT’s Gayane Chichakyan, reporting from Washington.   

Much of the protest was centered around the offices of the Podesta Group, a lobbying  firm co-founded by former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, John Podesta. Others occupied the area in front of congressional offices on Capitol Hill and outside a restaurant where Washington’s power brokers often dine.

Protesters, chanting “We are the 99 percent,” blocked intersections with newspaper boxes, wooden pallets, office furniture and tents. Downtown traffic was jammed for hours during the protest.

The police tried to drag them off the street as people lay side by side, linking arms in the heavy rain.

Police arrest an Occupy DC protester as they block the intersection of 14th and K streets in downtown Washington,DC on December 7, 2011 (AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm)
Police arrest an Occupy DC protester as they block the intersection of 14th and K streets in downtown Washington,DC on December 7, 2011 (AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm)

The majority of arrested protesters were charged with obstruction of a highway.

Many of the protesters were expected to be released after paying a citation, but police said they would jail any with outstanding warrants.

Wednesday’s demonstration was the most confrontational in Washington since Occupy DC protesters began camping in nearby McPherson Square on October 1.

It has been reported that at least one protester suffered non-life threatening injuries after a confrontation with a mounted police officer.

A crackdown on the Occupy DC encampment in downtown Washington on December 4 ended with 31 arrests following a nine-hour standoff with district police.

Other Occupy movements around the country are also being marked by more confrontation as the  authorities continue to move against encampments of the Occupy movement across the US.

Earlier on Wednesday, police also dismantled a tent city housing Occupy protesters in downtown San Francisco, arresting 70 demonstrators.