This afternoon, at least 99 different groups of Americans outraged at income inequality and the lack of jobs are at the U.S. capitol, demanding that Members of Congress support jobs legislation. The action, called “Take Back The Capitol” is one of the few times that Members of Congress will be directly confronted by unemployed people.
About half an hour ago, a group of demonstrators entered Rep. Joe Walsh’s (R-IL) office. These protesters asked to meet with the congressman. The Chief of Staff, Justin Roth, said that Walsh was busy and could only meet with them later but offered to meet with the protesters himself. “I think we’ll stay,” said one protester. Roth shrugged and the protesters sat down and decided to occupy the office until Walsh arrives. Watch it:
ThinkProgress spoke with one of the protesters, Andy Gebel. Gebel said he is 56 years old and has been unemployed for two years four months, a hundred and twenty three weeks. He ran out of unemployment insurance last summer and has been living on Social Security disability benefits because he needed a liver transplant last year. He doesn’t have enough money to pay for health insurance so he’s anticipating getting Medicare benefits next year.
Gebel and the rest of the protesters want Walsh and the rest of Congress to stop trying to balance the budget on the backs of middle class priorities like Medicare and Social Security. “I’d like to see some kind of commitment from him to not cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,” said Gebel. “And get some sort of jobs program going and boost the economy.”
A staffer asked the protesters if they’d like to watch some news rather than the House floor on the television in the office. The protesters said they would, and it was quickly decided by consensus that the television channel would be changed to Fox News.
Rather than meet with activists at 3 P.M. as his staff suggested he would do, around 3:20 he left his office by a side door and fled down the hallway, refusing to even acknowledge his constituent. Read more and watch the video of Walsh taking off here.