Wednesday, August 10th, witnessed four rallies for jobs – mostly held at Congressional offices – across San Diego County.
Sponsored by MoveOn and its affiliate national coalition, the Rebuild the American Dream, the protest rallies had the theme of “Jobs Not Cuts”, and were held outside the offices of Congressional reps Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray, and Susan Davis. A fourth rally was held outside a Bank of America where Congressman Bob Filner spoke.
The rallies – although somewhat small in nature – exhibited an energy and anger that was propelled by the state of the economy and the debt deal’s shortcoming. The events were also the occasion where copies of the Rebuild the Dream’s platform, called the Contract for an American Dream, were handed over to the Congressional reps, accepted by their staffs – as none of the reps were in their offices.
That there is a “dis-connect” between Washington and the grassroots and mainstreet was a constant observation by those who spoke, and that the country needed jobs, its infrastructure repaired, and the people’s safety nets protected.
Over 30 protesters showed up at Hunter’s 52nd District office – out in an industrial park in El Cajon – which was co-hosted by Mary Sweeney and Frank Gormlie. Several people who spoke talked of strengthening progressive politics in the east county – which Hunter’s district covers.
Dozens of protesters also converged on Brian Bilbray’s Solana Beach office, and led by Joanna Lasken, they chanted: “Brian Bilbray – where are the jobs?”, and “They say cut-back. We say fight-back!”
And over 20 people turned out for a rally in front of a Chula Vista Bank of America organized by MoveOn regional coordinator, Joan Stroh. Rep. Bob Filner – a San Diego mayoral candidate – spoke in his capacity as a member of Congress.
The largest event was in front of Susan Davis’ office on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights in San Diego. There over 60 demonstrators rallied and waved signs, and yelled a few chants.
Frank Gormlie welcomed people and introduced Lorena Gonzalez, the head of the San Diego Labor Council, who galvanized the crowd by leading “Jobs – not cuts! Jobs – not cuts!”.
Gormlie spoke and gave an outline of the ten points of the Rebuild blueprint, and said that progressives have been in a defensive and reactive mode in the past. “That ends today,” he declared. He then made specific appeals to those in the crowd under 40, and then to the “gray-hairs in the crowd”. “We’re not dead yet,” he said, “we’re not in the grave yet, we’re still around, and they haven’t seen the end of us!”
Sociology professor Gregg Robinson told the crowd “I am really, really scared!” and then went on to talk about how unfair the tax rates are today compared with the rates during the Clinton and Reagan eras, how if just 400 wealthy Americans were taxed at the old rates that thousands of teachers could be hired with that revenue.
Researcher Jon Christensen then got up and reminded everyone about the CCC – Civilian Conservation Corps – and the WPA of the thirties and what the programs – which hired thousands of unemployed Americans during the Depression – built. He also mentioned CETA sponsored “by that socialist Nixon”, he said sarcastically.
This was followed by a number of unemployed people who mounted the steps and described their personal predicaments.
OB Ragster Patty Jones was one of them – she told the crowd that after working for two years at her last job at a machine shop – the whole place was packed up and shipped to Europe.
Gormlie then led the unemployed into Davis’ office to hand over the Contract to Rebuild America, which was graciously accepted by her staff, who also said that they had heard the speakers and agreed with what was said.
MoveOn activists encouraged people to sign up and to become “members of the movement to save America.” Gormlie ended the rally by declaring: “We need you, you need us – we need each other!”
NBC appeared to be the only local TV station to cover most of the rallies – go here for their report.
Here are more photos from the different rallies held yesterday. (Remember to click on an image for a larger version.)