HARTFORD — Joining their fellow Occupiers across the nation Thursday, a group of more than 100 protesters, including union workers, marched from Aetna‘s headquarters on Farmington Avenue to the Hartford Courant building on Broad Street to watch a dozen of their fellow protesters block the ramp to Interstate 84 and get arrested.
The dozen protesters arrested were wearing pink armbands and were allowed to sit down and block the highway entrance as more than 30 Hartford Police officers watched. One-by-one they were all arrested and loaded into police vans waiting on the ramp as their fellow protesters cheered them on, then chanted “Let them go!”
At one point during the protest, the group started cheering, “HPD is the 99 percent.”
The police blocked traffic on Broad Street from Capitol Avenue to Farmington Avenue and rerouted traffic throughout the protest. Some of the dozen arrested were affiliated with labor groups, others were students, and others were from community groups. All were charged with disorderly conduct. They were released with promises to appear in court on Monday.
The highway ramp, which isn’t far from Turning Point Park the site of the Occupy Hartford movement, is dilapidated and the union workers rallying with the group were also protesting the lack of capital infrastructure money being released by Congress.
“Listen Congress we need more, off your butts fix 84,” the group shouted.
Ed Reilly, of the Ironworkers Union, told the group they need to empower themselves and this is the first step toward empowerment. He told them the quickest way to turn around the economy was getting Congress to release money to improve infrastructure, such as the I-84 ramp where protesters got arrested.
From Bank of America to Wall Street, corporations and the decisions of the country’s wealthiest one percent were the root of the protest. In New York City Occupiers from New Haven attempted to block workers on Wall Street from going to work.
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Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group, said the group in Hartford was there Thursday “declaring an economic emergency.”
“We need Washington to act and invest to create jobs. Stop playing games by considering cuts that would actually hurt the number of jobs and have Wall Street and the 1 percent begin to pay their fair share,” Swan, one of the protesters arrested, said.
One 58-year-old protester, who declined to give her name, said she lost her job of 25 years with MetLife/Travelers more than two years ago. Her job was one of 75 that the company outsourced to Rhode Island, Florida, and India. She said she came to the march and rally Thursday because she wanted her voice to be heard.
She said she’s been searching for a job and it’s tough out there especially at 58 years old.
The Hartford Courant also received some attention from the protesters for its decision to end a contract with Capitol Cleaning costing a dozen union employees their jobs. The protesters shouted, “Shame on the Hartford Courant” as they gathered outside its Broad Street headquarters.
Eddie Williams one of the janitors who will be laid off Dec. 12 spoke about his anticipated unemployment outside Aetna’s headquarters on Farmington Avenue.
The Connecticut Action Alliance for a Fair Economy handed out leaflets explaining that three years after Wall Street wrecked the economy 25 million Americans are still unable to find full-time work.
“But instead of creating jobs, Congress ignores the needs of the 99 percent and focuses on job-killing service cuts and tax giveaways for the superrich and America’s most profitable corporations,” the leaflet says.
A man named Roze who is part of the Occupy Hartford movement, said he’s one of the unemployed. He said if they could get jobs then they wouldn’t be out there occupying a vacant piece of land in Hartford.
“I don’t have a job. I am an occupation,” he told the crowd.