NEW HAVEN, Conn. Terry Masters, a Fairfield County organizer for Move.On.Org, went to New Haven on Thursday to join nearly 100 protestors at one of the "Day of Action, We Are The 99 Percent" rallies held around the country.
Masters, 58, of Stratford, said she was "inspired and excited" by the early evening rally outside the long-shuttered Dixwell Q Community House that included fiery speeches by community activists and loud chants by placard-carrying protestors.
Even a cold rain didn't deter the protestors, who came out to demand that the community center, which has been closed for nearly a decade, be reopened and jobs be created. They also chanted for improvements to roads and bridges.
"I'm thrilled to be here taking part in this national day of protest to help draw attention for the need for jobs and to improve the failing infrastructure in our towns and cities," said Masters. "Seeing so many young people are out here is the most encouraging sign this is not a movement that is going away. I believe it is just starting to gain momentum."
The Rev. Scott Marks, leader of the Connecticut Center for a New Economy in New Haven, agreed. He fired up the crowd with a Martin Luther King Jr.-style speech. "Rebuild America, Rebuild America!" Marks shouted as he raised his fist into the air.
"What we need are good jobs and to stop the violence in our communities. That can start by reopening this community center, which is a place young people once could come to gather and prepare for jobs. You are standing on hallowed ground!
"What do we want?" he asked the crowd.
"Jobs!" the protestors shouted back. "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!"
"Who are we?" Marks asked, his voice slowly rising.
"We are the 99 percent, we are the 99 percent!" the crowd roared.
The rally was similar to hundreds held Thursday around the country by the AFL-CIO, Move.On.Org, Occupy Wall Street and other groups, to commemorate the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Protesters also signed an oversized postcard that will be sent to U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman for voting against two provisions of President Barack Obama's $447 billion jobs bill.
Some of the protests involved civil disobedience, including in Hartford and in New York City, where two New Haven people were among the dozens arrested in clashes with police.
While no one was arrested during the New Haven rally, loud protestors made it known they are not willing to accept the status quo.
"We have to force our local, regional and federal legislators to implement policies, such as President Barack Obama's Jobs Bill as we pay homage today through this day of action," said Jeanette Morrison, alderwoman-elect for New Haven's 22nd District, where Dixwell House is located.
"It is no mistake that you young people and your leaders decided to use this location to demonstrate and exercise your legal right to have a good paying job," Morrison said. "Dixwell was where job opportunities were plentiful and support services right at your fingertips. This was a big part of the establishment of the black middle class."
Drivers passed by honking in support, and raised thumbs-up signs outside their car windows.
Art Perlo, an Occupy New Haven committee member, said the demonstration was a "big success. "This was a powerful reminder that people are fed up with what's going on across our country," he said. "The rich getting richer and the poor and middle class having to pay for it."
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