More than 100 protesters from Occupy DC gathered Thursday night in front of a Northwest Washington office building where Democrats were holding a campaign fundraiser, banging on drums and shouting their frustration with the Democratic Party and President Obama's reliance on donations from Wall Street.
The group left the Occupy camp at McPherson Square around 5:30 p.m. and marched about two blocks to the building at 727 15 St. NW, where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was charging from $5,000 to $75,000 for a seat at the fundraising dinner.
According to the DCCC, the holiday party was to benefit 15 Democratic House members seeking reelection, including Reps. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and Gerry Connolly of Virginia.
At least one protester hoisted a sign from a third-story balcony in the same building listed as the location of the fund raiser.
"We are your constituents, not your checkbook," one man shouted as District police rushed to the scene to guard the entrance to the building. "We hope your meal was worth the price of Democracy."
He added, "the Democrats are not going to save us, we are going to have to save ourselves."
Others chanted, "Hope and change, that's a lie, listen to Occupy."
Travis McArthur, 26, of Shaw, said the protesters don't care "if you are a Democrat, Republican or something else."
"If you are taking money donations at $75,000 a pop, there is no way that will not impact your vote in Congress in a way that will benefit Wall Street, " McArthur said.
DCCC officials at the scene declined comment.
The demonstrators then marched to the W Hotel, where they said another party fund-raiser was being held. There, about two dozen demonstrators sat in front of a door. There was a brief scuffle with police, but the incident quickly stablized. The demonstrators continued to sit in.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has swelled to include more than 1,000 protest sites around the globe. But in recent weeks, organizers have faced accusations that their protests have become little more than a vehicle for the left to target conservative Republicans. A month ago, for example, Occupy D.C. made national news when several hundred of its members tried to blockade a conservative conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
But Occupy leaders stress they are taking aim at Democrats, as well as Republicans. On Tuesday night more than 100 Occupy Wall Street protesters picketed a fundraiser for President Obama in midtown Manhattan, the New York Times reported.
“Between 2009 and 2011, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. In that time, unemployment reached its highest level since the Great Depression,” the Occupy DC action alert said. “ The big banks that crashed the global economy were not broken up, and are still ‘too big to fail.’”
On Wednesday night, on its two-month anniversary, Occupy D.C. approved a formal declaration outlining its grievances. The document states the group is protesting outsourcing, “kickbacks, bribes and dirty politics,” an “entrenched two-party system,” the rights of minorities, environmental issues, an unfair tax system and government intrusion into privacy.
Although police have moved to break up Occupy encampments in several other major cities, Occupy D.C. has been given relatively restriction-free access to two parks in Northwest Washington -- McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza. The National Park Service has oversight over both properties, and federal officials have said the protesters will be allowed to keep the encampments as long as they abide by standards for safety and cleanliness.