Rallying for jobs, justice

By Lauren Hallow Published:

Nearly 50 people gathered on the Old Capitol lawn Saturday to rally for job creation and against Washington, possibly rehearsing for future protests.

Sponsored by the local chapter of MoveOn.org, a public policy group for “democracy in action,” the hour-long rally featured several speakers, including Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, who expressed their concerns with the government and the nation’s lackluster economy.

“These are difficult times,” Rollins said. “We need to hold our politicians in Washington responsible so that they take action.”

Members of MoveOn.org organized the rally earlier this week after being inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests, which denounce economic inequality, particularly focusing on the 1 percent of people who control about a third of the nation’s wealth.

“We’re on the same page (as the Occupy Wall Street protesters),” said Mike Mansfield, head of the Capital City MoveOn.org group.

“There’s too much wealth invested into too few hands. They get bailed out … and we get sold out.”

The rally’s general focus was on job creation rather than federal budget cuts. To raise revenue, some suggested the government get help from the wealthy.

 “I’m all for raising taxes ... start with the rich,” Frankfort resident David Whealdon said to loud applause.

Mary Nishimuta, who owns the Coffee Tree Café, was on hand and hosted a viewing party afterward that featured videos from the Occupy Wall Street protests. She said the government needs to recognize businesses of all sizes, and not just large corporations.

“Legally, we (who run the Coffee Tree Café) are a corporation…I don’t see any bailouts coming from the federal government though,” she said, laughing.

Nishimuta said the recession has directly impacted her business. Buyers are getting tighter with their inventory, which leads to price increases, thus forcing her to raise prices at the restaurant, Nishimuta said.

She also said sales are down, something she said has affected a number of people in her shoes.

“Every small business has definitely been hurt by the recession,” Nishimuta said.  “It’s time to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong.’”

Saturday’s rally may have been a dress rehearsal for something larger.

Just like other Kentuckians have done in Louisville and Lexington, some local residents are planning an Occupy Frankfort protest, based on the number of people who showed up for Saturday’s rally.

The tentative date is set for Halloween on Oct. 31, but other details, such as where and what it will consist of, need to be settled.

Nishimuta said organizers were thinking of staging a parade, while Mansfield tried to think of places to have the protest. Most of the Occupy protests have been in front of corporate banks – Occupy Lexington protestors are currently camped in front of the downtown Chase bank. 

Whatever they choose to do, Nishimuta said she hopes the government gets the message.

“This is something we can’t just roll over and take anymore.

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