Santorum vs. Occupy Tacoma
-Rick Santorum may be surging in recent polls but he had to face a very vocal opposition on Monday evening at a speech in Tacoma, Washington. Santorum’s speech took place on the eve of an historic day for the state—Gov. Christine Gregoire had just signed legislation to make Washington the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage— and tensions at the conservative gathering in the typically blue state were at a high. Santorum called it “a sad day for many people” and paralleled Washington’s new law with the ruling against Proposition 8 in California. At which point, members of Occupy Tacoma began chanting and attempting to drown him out for the remainder of his speech.
“I think it’s really important to understand what this radical element represents. Because what they represent is true intolerance.” Santorum shouted over the Occupiers— a sentiment that was met with cheers from his supporters.
He continued: “The amazing thing is we hear people here tonight trying to divide America into one percentage versus another percentage—that’s not what a leader of this country should do. But Barack Obama has sided with the 99 versus one. He supported this movement— this movement that is intolerant and disrespectful. He supported them and embraced them. Nancy Pelosi supported and embraced them. Why? Because they’re consistent with exactly what Barack Obama is trying to do with this country. He is systematically trying to divide this country more than any other president in the history of this country.”
Santorum has used this argument before—claiming that the President has aligned himself with the Occupy movement as a means of dividing the country for his political benefit. Monday night reflected Santorum’s gain in momentum as his conservative supporters rallied with counter-chants aimed at the Occupiers (such as “Get a Job!”) and managed to drown out the opposition (and quite the scene when two members of Occupy were dragged out by police) to allow his speech to continue.
Santorum is no stranger to this type of controversy—his socially conservative views are what caused his infamous Google problem and have made him the target of glitter bombs (again and again and again)—but it seems that as he climbs in the polls, it will take Occupiers a bit more than chants and glitter to stop the momentum.
Civil Rights Era Activist’s Home Saved By Occupy Nashville
-On a lighter note, Occupy Nashville has successfully saved former civil rights activist Helen Bailey’s home from foreclosure after over 80,000 people signed a petition on Change.org to show their support. Bailey, a 78 year old grandmother, had attempted to refinance her mortgage with JP Morgan Chase– but the bank initially would not allow it. That’s when Occupy Nashville went the route of Occupy Our Homes and got involved. Occupy Our Homes is an offset of the Occupy Wall Street movement that focuses its efforts on the foreclosure crisis- their website states “we, the 99%, are standing up to Wall Street banks and demanding they negotiate with homeowners instead of foreclosing on them. Occupy Our Homes is a movement that supports Americans who stand up to their banks and fight for their homes. We believe everyone has a right to decent, affordable housing.”
Occupy Nashville created the Change.org petition and garnered the support of tens of thousands, including activists such as Cornel West, until a deal was finally reached that will allow Bailey to reside in her home, “down the street from the church she loves”, until she dies.
Overwhelmed by the efforts, Bailey said, “I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I love my home and my community and I am so blessed to be able to stay here. I am thankful for the support of my neighbors and the nation.”
The 99 Percent “Breaks Up” With Bank of America
-Valentine’s Day was rough on the relationship between the 99 Percent Movement and Bank of America. On Tuesday activists in New York City gathered for a mass “break up” with the bank—asking people to join them in a march to a nearby Bank of America to close their accounts. From the press release published at the Paramus Post: “Bank of America loves profits more than people. We, the 99%, want out of this abusive relationship. Bank of America has foreclosed on more homes than any other bank in the United States. On February 14th, Valentine’s Day, housing and environmental activists will break up with the Bank of America.” The Occupy movement has been successful in pushing people to transfer their money from big banks in the past—in November they held a “Bank Transfer Day” that saw around 200,000 people move their accounts to credit unions and local banks. Consulting firm cg42 estimates that big bank customers will collectively withdraw $185 billion in deposited funds in 2012 and found that Bank of America is the most vulnerable to customer defection.