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Caucus protest call unheeded

Sun., Nov. 13, 2011, midnight

DES MOINES, Iowa – After camping out for weeks near the Iowa capitol, or about as far as you can get from the center of the financial universe on Wall Street, the few dozen protesters of Occupy Iowa stumbled on the perfect way to draw more attention to their cause.

They had something no other Occupy protest could match: the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.

A mass of Occupy protesters could confront each of the candidates for president – in full view of the television cameras that follow each around the state – in the same way their Occupy Wall Street brethren have confronted bankers, traders and the financial sector in lower Manhattan.

“Our unique opportunity is being at the pressure point of the most powerful political leaders in the country, even in the world,” said Ed Fallon, an Occupy Iowa organizer.

But the calls from Occupy Iowa are, so far, going more or less unanswered. Fallon said it’s too early to say how many might eventually arrive, but organizers in New York, Boston and Chicago said this week no one in their protest community is planning to attend. Some are scornful of the very idea they should attempt to effect change from within the existing political structure that the caucuses represent.

“We believe that the conversation is the way to start fixing policy,” said Patrick Bruner, a spokesman for the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York’s Zuccotti Park. “And that conversation will organically lead to solutions.”

The Occupy protests began in New York’s financial district in September as a demonstration against economic inequality, aimed primarily at the financial firms based nearby. Within weeks, similar protests in dozens of major cities and hundreds of smaller communities had formed under the Occupy banner, as protesters gathered in the public square to voice their opinions, argue positions and present grievances.


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