Lined with Ron Paul devotees, Occupy Dallas gathers outside Federal Reserve
On the street corner outside the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, crowds of Ron Paul supporters with megaphones shouting, “Audit the Fed!” are nothing new.
They were there again Thursday, but they were joined this time by hundreds more demonstrators whose anger has turned not only on the fed, but on all the big banks and corporations that have avoided serious accountability for their role in the financial crisis.
The protest began in the morning at nearby Pike Park, then marched a few blocks to the sidewalk and lawn beside the Federal Reserve. The crowd came and went from there a couple times during the day, first marching to the downtown landmark Chase Tower, then again to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza.
Full of signs and shirts bearing the Occupy Wall Street movement’s “99 percent” slogan, the crowd was also peppered with 9/11 Truth demonstrators and the Guy Fawkes masks of the hacker group Anonymous.
They chanted their thanks to the Dallas police lined up to monitor the crowd. One leader reminded the crowd that police and firefighters in Texas were facing serious job losses too, thanks to smaller state and local budgets.
Dallas AFL-CIO board member Gene Lantz read a statement of support for the crowd before the march began Thursday. “We’re just going as participants,” Texas AFL-CIO spokesman Ed Sills told the Texas Independent. “We haven’t organized it. We’re going to take part in it.”
McKenzie Wainwright, one of the protest’s leaders, announced that folks from the Transportation Workers Union and the Communications Workers Union were in the crowd as well, according to the Dallas Observer.
Though the crowd was mostly young, there was a wide range of ages — a shirtless middle-aged man showed up wearing a barrel, and another woman carried a two-sided sign reading, “Seriously pissed off grandma,” and “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this crap.”
Bernard Kern, a retired Lutheran minister from North Richland Hills, came armed with a four-point call for change on the sign he carried: stop war, economic exploitation, hunger and global warming. “It’s pretty exciting,” he said, to see so many young people out marching for change.
“A diversity of issues is a good thing,” he said, because it shows how many different slices of the city are ready to stand up and complain about feeling disenfranchised. “We feel like we can’t influence our legislators to effect systemic change.”
While the protesters hunkered down for an overnight stay outside the federal reserve, Dallas police reported they hadn’t made any arrests in the first day.
A little removed from the crowd, Chris Stephenson stood on the corner with a megaphone, hollering at passing cars that GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul was the best answer for all this anger at banks and corporations.
Like the tea party before it, this crowd, he said, would probably be co-opted by the powerful party structure before long, “corralled into voting for Obama.”
Stephenson said that’s more likely to happen when people are lumped into groups together, focused on a wide swath of issues instead of focusing their criticism on the powers that control the economy. He said radio host Alex Jones, of InfoWars fame, would be speaking at Occupy Dallas at 5:30 Friday evening.
“I’m afraid of it,” said Spencer Matthews beside him. “I think a lot of people are only here because they lost their jobs.”
To change the system instead, Stephenson said, protesters need to look beyond the individual banks, like Chase, they may feel drawn to protest, and take a hard look at “the head of the beast,” the federal reserve.
“When people get mad, they want to focus their anger,” Stephenson said, “and it should be on this institution.”