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West Virginians Join "99% - Occupy Everything" Rallies

October 12, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Activists in at least three West Virginia communities are working to bring the 99 Percent "Occupy Everything" protests to West Virginia.

Occupy Huntington is continuing its action, which started with targeting a bank there last weekend, according to spokesman Michael McAteer. His group has been hearing from others around the state which are planning protests this coming weekend, he says.

"It looks like, within the state, there is a very loose coalition of interested parties that seem to be congealing together. Charleston is an event; I believe that Martinsburg is on the list, but I don't know where in town they'll be setting up shop."

Protests around the nation are targeting the 1 percent of super-wealthy Americans the protesters say are not paying their "air share" of taxes.

In addition to students and the unemployed, the rallies are attracting union members from ironworkers to bus drivers, nurses and actors. Peter Foley, a member of New York's Transit Workers Union, explains why he joined a protest outside New York's City Hall.

"Me, I'm out here, I want to see a stock-transaction tax and I want that to be used to rebuild America and put people back into work."

Actor Juliana Francis Kelly, who marched in New York with her young daughter, says that in the past few years she's been working harder and longer for less pay.

"And so, when Wall Street gets a bailout and then you read about the enormous bonuses their chief executive officers are receiving, it's just not right, and I think this is a really powerful and wonderful way to communicate that."

The Occupy Wall Street movement sometimes is criticized for not articulating specific demands. However, ironworker Paul Armstrong has a clear one...

"Corporate lobbyists out of Washington. I don't care if they're Republican or Democrat, it seems to me that all politicians are in somebody's pocket - and it's not right that working-class Americans have no say anymore."

Information on the New York protests is online at occupywallstreet.org. For local events, go to occupytogether.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV