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“The tea party were individuals attempting to seek redresses of their grievances of the government they elected” while Wall Street protesters are unfairly “pitting themselves against others outside of government.”
The House’s second-ranking Democrat took issue with Cantor’s attacks on the movement.
“I certainly don’t think they’re a mob,” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said when asked about the protests.
The Maryland Democrat noted that he did not necessarily agree with the message of the protesters but said, “Americans are distressed. Americans are fearful. Americans are angry. ... And I think that what is going on is a reflection of that angst, that things are not going as well in America as they would like.”
A few dozen protesters remained in the Hart Building following the arrests, clustered together behind the line of police officers blocking the atrium.
Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of the liberal activist group CodePink, said there were no more actions planned for Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
“We’re hoping to send a loud message here in the Hart Building,” said Benjamin, who said she has moved out of her D.C. residence and into “a cardboard box” in Freedom Plaza in solidarity with Occupy DC. “We’re sick of the endless war and insisting on using that money for health care, for schools.”
Benjamin did say that a small group was considering disrupting an afternoon Senate Finance Committee hearing on a handful of pending free-trade agreements.
Leah Bolger, a representative of Stop the Machine who served in the military for two decades, said to expect more activity in the halls of Congress in the days and weeks to come.
“Our goal was to shut down the Hart Building and disrupt business as usual ... in the seat of the government, where all the power is.”
Next on the agenda, said Vietnam veteran and fellow Stop the Machine activist Ken Mayers, was “lunch.”
Jessica Brady contributed to this report. Please send tips to email@example.com.