Occupy the Caucus: 12 Arrested (Including 14-Year-Old Girl), Demonstrators Say They Will Participate, Not 'Disrupt'
On Thursday, police arrested 12 Occupy the Caucus protesters for allegedly blocking the entrance of the Democratic Party headquarters, arresting but not detaining a 14-year-old girl, Frankie Hughes. The New York Times reports that Hughes, quite the rebel, had already been arrested with Occupy three or four times.
Occupy the Caucus kicked off on December 26th, and will continue until January 3rd, according to the Occupy Iowa Caucuses website. Iowa Republican Chairman Matt Strawn criticized the Occupy the Caucus movement for planning to "disrupt" the process, but occupiers dismiss his judgement as propaganda. CBS reports that, despite what Republicans might want Americans to believe, occupiers are not in Iowa to disrupt the caucus, but participate:
"The main goal is to draw that connection between the corrupt culture on Wall Street and the corrupt political culture in Washington DC," says Ed Fallon, a radio host and former Iowa Assemblyman who has emerged as one of the leaders of the movement in Iowa.
Fallon dismissed Strawn's concerns, saying, "We have made it emphatically clear over and over again that we have no plans to disrupt the process on January 3." Indeed, many occupiers say they plan to participate in the caucuses - but vote "uncommitted" as a protest against what they see as a corrupt political system.
Fallon said the movement simply wants to "call them out" - both Republicans and Democrats - for ignoring the needs of the many to favor the wealthy few.
"The opposition is trying to characterize the movement as a bunch of disgruntled renegades who are unwashed and uninformed," he said. "It's a game they're playing to hype up opposition to what the movement is all about.
Events hosted by candidates, however, are likely to be disrupted. On Wednesday, occupiers interrupted Ron Paul to ask why he hates gays, and at Mitt Romney's Des Moines headquarters, police arrested seven occupiers protesting his ties to Wells Fargo. Thursday, too, saw occupations and arrests, as five occupy demonstrators were arrested at Paul's campaign headquarters while protesting his proposal to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency
And still, Occupy the Caucus is just beginning. According to the Occupy Iowa Caucuses website,
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, January 1 – 3, we will chase the candidates and their Wall Street cronies around the state of Iowa, dogging their heels at all their black-tie dinners and staged media events, drowning out their empty rhetoric with the strong, clear message of the 99%: We are taking American democracy back!