After visiting 94 offices on Capitol Hill Tuesday, unemployed demonstrators targeted a Newt Gingrich fundraising event on Wednesday night. The hotel, like many of the representatives’ offices, locked its doors to the demonstrators, who are in D.C. with a group called “Take Back the Capitol.” Wednesday night the demonstrators called for Gingrich to discuss his jobs plans with the “99% outside” protesting, rather than the “1% who are contributing thousands to his campaign,” according to a press release sent out by organizers. Gingrich never came out.
“Take Back the Capitol” is made up of “unemployed and underemployed people from every state, students, community activists, union members, healthcare advocates, and travelers from Occupy sites from coast to coast,” according to the group’s website. Organized labor has helped coordinate three days’ worth of Capitol Hill protests under that banner.
The protesters are in D.C. as Congress is expected to vote on extending unemployment insurance to 2.2 million unemployed workers who face losing their benefits if the legislation is not passed.
Today, Senate Republicans blocked a vote on President Obama’s nomination to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Congress created the bureau, which was the brain child of Massachussets Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, during last year’s financial reforms. But Republicans have worked to strip its authority ever since, and have vowed not to confirm a director for it. Obama is weighing a recess appointment, which would circumvent the Senate vote.
Meanwhile, many of the demonstrators are using cameras on their mobile phones to upload images of members of Congress ignoring them. In the video below, Congressman Joe Walsh, who represents Illinois’ 8th District, was caught on video fleeing from his constituents. “We’ve been waiting a few hours to speak with you congressman,” a woman is heard saying as Walsh races down a set of stair. “You can at least acknowledge us,” the woman says once she realizes the congressman is fleeing.
California Rep. Elton Gallegly, a Republican who represents most of Ventura County and inland Santa Barbara Couny, at least acknowledged the demonstrators with a “Merry Christmas,” but he then ran quickly behind locked doors.
“Even when one of his constituents presented herself and tried to talk to him, he just kept saying ‘Merry Christmas,’” Esperanza Arrizon, a youth leader with Good Jobs LA, wrote about the event. According to her, before the congressman ran behind closed doors he did have one question for demonstrators, “I just donated 750 gifts to needy children, how many of you can say you did that?”
The event is being organized by several community groups by the American Dream Movement, a partnership between several groups including MoveOn.org, SEIU and other progressive, labor, and faith-based organizations.