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American dream lost: Protesters "out of work, out of town, and fed up"

posted 7 Oct 2011, 04:32 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 7 Oct 2011, 04:38 ]

USA-"Occupy DC" -- American dream lost: Protesters "out of work, out of town, and fed up"

CCTV BEIJING - Like many other protesters that "occupied" Freedom Square in Washington D.C. on Thursday, she's out of work; she's from out of town, and she's fed up.

Freda Miller, 67, joined more than 500 chanting people to kick off what has become Washington, D.C.'s biggest version to date of the Occupy Wall Street protests -- with many of the protesters seemingly willing to sleep overnight for days in sleeping bags, tents and cardboard boxes painted up as foreclosed homes.

"I want to try to get a message to our government that we need to end the wars. That's one way we can save a lot of money. That's causing our big deficit. And we also need to spend a lot more money on social services and on creating jobs right now," said Miller.

When last time Miller took part in a protest, she was living in Portland, Oregon, where she marched against the war in Vietnam in the 1960s.

After losing her secretary job at a Portland-based construction company in 2008, the childless Ms Miller struggled on a monthly income of less than US$300. In order to save money without compromising her lifestyle, she moved to Costa Rica last year.

Miller stood side by side with first-timers and other veteran antiwar and anti-poverty activists, chanting, singing and waving signs that said "Tax the rich." They derided corporate greed, ineffective political leadership and the growing inequity between the rich and poor.

"I think the American Dream has sort of disappeared," said Miller, "for so many young people who have taken out huge loans to go to college. And when they graduate, they can't find a job and yet they owe all this money."

After an eight-hour flight to DC for Thursday's events, Miller had to share a room with four other people in a bed-and-breakfast of downtown Washington, which cost her US$25 a night.

Although this trip would cost her more than US$550, half of her monthly social security according to Ms. Miller, she didn't regret coming all the way here.

"If somebody has invited me to go on a vacation trip that costs what this trip will cost me, I would've just said, "no, thanks, I can't afford it," said Miller, "But one affords what is important to them."

Miller mentioned that she had lost faith in the country's political system during the past two years, but when she read about the protest in Wall Street, she felt inspired.

In Web manifesto of Occupy DC, rally organizers spoke of transforming Freedom Plaza into "our Tahrir Square Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin," where they could "nonviolently" resist the "corporate machine" and ask that America's resources be spent on human needs.

"We hope our government will hear us. Even if the government maybe at first doesn't acknowledge the voice, the important thing is to have the voice there," said Miller.

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