by Nate Jackson Working Washington and other west coast community groups marched down from the National Mall to the infamous “K” street singing gospel songs, chanting and spilling out into the street. We were headed to a big 1% lobbying firm on our way to “K” street to make sure they got the memo. We were going to shine a light on their influence of our legislators. They are elected by us, and should be working for us.
“K” Street is the main hub of 1% lobbyists in Washington DC. It is home to dozens of firms who are hired by special interest 1% groups to influence, cajole and sway our elected officials. They look out for the 1% and leave the rest of us behind. Not this time. We had a message for them. Enough is enough.
Susie Escada, a woman from Tacoma lost her job. She has been working for 50 years.
“I just lost my job a year and a half ago,” she said. “I came to Washington DC because no one is hearing what we are saying. Congress is not willing to help the middle class or the working class anymore.”
Escada has been living off of unemployment insurance and it is nearly running out. This economy hasn’t just affected her; her daughter has had to move back in.
“How demoralizing,” she said. “My daughter is 47 years old and can’t find work. She had to move back in with me. Something needs to be done because they aren't listening to us.”
Hunter Marshall, a nursing student from Seattle came to DC because he is finishing school and has no prospects for a good job.
“It used to be that nursing was a steady job,” he said. “Health Care was supposed to be the golden ticket to a good job with good benefits. It’s just not the case anymore. It’s really hard to find a job right now.”
The problem is that our elected officials were too busy listening to the 1% lobbyists or looking out for their own special interests instead of doing the work for which they were elected, doing what is best for us, their constituents. That is why we were marching today on “K” Street.
Spirits were high as onlookers stopped in their tracks as we took over street after street. We were fired up and we were not going to be deterred. We swarmed by big banks, 1% lobbying firms and sub-prime mortgage lenders. We yelled “shame!” as we stopped by the big corporations like Wells Fargo and Citi Bank who got bailed out while they kicked us out of our homes.
The firms up and down “K” Street circulated warnings and memos to their workers and partners warning that the people were coming. There was extra security, locked doors and a massive police presence. They did not want to be held accountable by the 99%, but it was too late.
When we got to “K” street we were joined by other groups from the entire protest and our numbers rushed into the thousands. We shut down the intersection on “K” street and brought our message of jobs, not cuts directly to the people whose very job it was to cut jobs for the 99%.
We sang “We shall overcome” with a chorus of thousands. We chanted and danced in the streets. It was wonderful. Everyone helped each other and kept each other safe.
A few of us decided to make a stand. They locked arms in the middle of the intersection and refused to move. They were teachers, construction workers and clergy, unemployed and unafraid.
They were arrested, but not defeated. It was a choice to stand up for the 99% and show that the 1% have been holding the rest of us captive. The 1% lobbyists on “K” Street had the ear of our elected officials, but they never expected the people to show up to challenge that. It’s a challenge that we can and will win.