Wall Street protesters have Obama's ear

Oct. 3, 2011 at 9:42 PM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The message of anti-Wall Street protesters demanding U.S. social and economic policy change has reached the Oval Office, a White House spokesman said Monday.

Jay Carney, President Obama's top spokesman, told reporters he hadn't discussed the Wall Street protests with the president but said he is "sure he's aware of it because he follows the news."

"I would simply say that, to the extent that people are frustrated with the economic situation, we understand," Carney said. "And that's why we're so urgently trying to focus Congress's attention on the need to take action on the economy and job creation.

"And as regards Wall Street, I mean, one of the things that this president is very proud of is the consumer protections that were put into place through legislation that Republicans are now eager to try to dismantle. We think that's a bad idea.

"Because these are common-sense consumer protections that would prevent the kind of abuse that credit card companies engaged in against credit card holders, that would protect against some of the actions that were taken that led to, or contributed to, the financial crisis that we saw in 2008."

Asked if Obama was concerned about law enforcement's treatment of the protesters, Carney responded he hadn't discussed that with the president "and I haven't followed it that closely."

The protests have spread from New York to many other cities -- including Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle, Charlotte, N.C., and Albuquerque -- driven by social media Web sites, organizers say.

Chicago protesters have occupied the sidewalk outside the city's branch of the Federal Reserve Bank since Sept. 23.

Hundreds in Los Angeles marched on City Hall Saturday on the first day of protests and remained there Sunday, vowing to stay. Several dozen people camped outside the Federal Reserve branches in San Francisco and Boston.

Occupy Boston, inspired by Occupy Wall Street that started Sept. 17, plans a round of protests during Tuesday's morning rush hour near the Boston Fed, The Boston Globe reported.

A Web site called occupytogether.org, which calls itself "an unofficial hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street," lists offshoots of the New York protest existing or planned in 44 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, as well as in nearly 30 cities around the world from Melbourne and Tokyo to Montreal and Tijuana, Mexico.

A United Press International review early Monday found about 75 Facebook pages dedicated to occupying U.S. cities and states. The Occupy Wall Street Facebook page had about 14,000 supporters. It had about 5,400 when UPI checked Thursday night.

Those protesting in New York have been circulating grievances aimed at corporations they say are too powerful and often unethical.

Among the complaints cited by The Wall Street Journal -- bank executives getting "exorbitant" bonuses shortly after receiving taxpayer bailouts and companies having "poisoned the food supply through negligence" and continuously seeking "to strip employees of the right to negotiate better pay and safer working conditions."

A group called the 99 Percent said its members would "no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent."

The New York demonstration, which got the support of the union representing New York City transit workers last week, will receive the support of several large unions this week, the New York Daily News reported.

A big union march set for Wednesday.

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