Local protesters join Wall Street rallies
Posted: Friday, October 7, 2011 8:01 pm
NASHVILLE (AP) — Protesters took to the streets in Nashville and Memphis on Thursday to voice their concerns about economic inequality and Wall Street practices, taking their cue from larger rallies in New York and other cities.
A few hundred protesters gathered across the street from the state Capitol in Nashville and a much smaller crowd of about 20 turned out in Memphis. Participants chanted slogans, listened to speeches and waved handwritten signs expressing their ire over frustrations with the economy and perceived corporate greed.
President Obama said Thursday that such protesters are expressing the frustrations of the American public about how the nation’s financial system works and said Americans see Wall Street as an example of the financial industry not always following the rules.
Gina Wills, a 20-year-old sophomore at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, said she doesn’t expect immediate changes to follow from the nationwide protests. She came to Nashville for the lunchtime protest with her three friends.
“The only way we’re going to change this is from the inside out — we can’t completely bring down the system, it starts with little steps,” she said.
“As long as people realize this is a problem we need to confront they’ll look for candidates who support the movement and it will grow from there.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville emerged from the legislative office complex to observe the protests. Turner, a firefighter with strong union ties, said the protests reflect “a lot of frustration out there” about the economy.
“It’s kind of the opposite of what the tea party is, coming from more from the left,” he said.
“But a lot of the same sentiments are here. They’re frustrated with Wall Street and Washington, and they want to see some change.”
Turner acknowledged that many Tennessee lawmakers pride themselves on their business-friendly approach, but said the protests appear to be more focused on national issues rather than local ones.
“This is more against Wall Street and the greed coming out of there,” he said.
In Memphis, protesters carried signs reading “Human Needs, Not Corporate Greed,” and “Better Jobs, Better Schools, Better Government.”
Andrew Cohen, 65, said the government is more concerned with “making arms and not spending on schools and bridges.”
Alexandra Pusateri, 20, said the group’s message is not necessarily about fixing the economy but “more about the politicians that are in place right now lining their pockets instead of fighting for the people.”
Published in The Messenger 10.07.11