Updated 10/07/2011 10:19 AM
Obama Offers First Remarks On "Occupy Wall Street" Protesters
As demonstrators rallied in Washington, D.C. Thursday in solidarity with the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters of Manhattan, President Barack Obama held a press conference and told Congress to pass his jobs act, warning lawmakers that it is "not a game." NY1's Tetiana Anderson filed the following report.
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What started as a movement in New York by some low-profile demonstrators with big-time concerns has mushroomed into a national conversation that even has President Barack Obama talking.
He spoke out for the first time Thursday about the change "Occupy Wall Street" protesters have been calling for over the last few weeks.
"I think people are frustrated. And the protestors are giving voice to a more broad based frustration about how our financial system works," Obama said.
The president made the remarks while urging Congress to pass his jobs act, warning lawmakers that it is "not a game."
The bill, which would lower payroll taxes and focus on education, science research and infrastructure, is set to come up for a vote in the Senate next week.
The president says he supports a tax increase on million dollar earners proposed by Senate Democrats to pay for the bill.
Republicans have blasted the plan.
"Not only did the financial sector with Republicans in Congress fight us every inch of the way, but now you got these same folks suggesting that we should roll back all those reforms and go back to the way it was before the crisis," Obama said.
While giving voice to national anger over bank bailouts, unemployment, student loans and credit burdens may have started in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park, some say inspiration to speak up came from a world away.
"I can also equate it to what is reflected with the Arab spring. What's going on in Egypt Tunisia Yemen Syria it's that same kind of people's movement grass roots movement from the ground up," said one protestor.
"These kids are out there, they are confused as to what they want to do, but they know that we're not getting a fair shake in America," said Manhattan Congressman Charles Rangel.
But as the grassroots effort continues to take shape, so does the reality that there are agitators, even some in uniform, in every crowd.
Some protestors say police used unnecessary force after a march Wednesday that resulted in 23 arrests and negative attention from the media.
"I think the attention that is being paid to those incidences is greater than what is actually going on here. This morning in the paper that's all I saw, 'Protest ends in police beatings,'" said one protestor.
Police say demonstrators made arrests top news when they charged at police officers on Wall Street.
"There's clearly a core group of self-styled anarchists, I guess that is what they call themselves, who want to have a confrontation which we saw last night," said POlice Commissioner Ray Kelly.
As the movement for broad sweeping financial and government reform grows, many say, agitators aside, they will continue to speak up until change finally comes.
The NYPD says they will continue to facilitate the conversation as long as protestors play by the rules.