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‘Occupy Wall Street’ gains institutional cheerleaders

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A live feed from “Occupy Wall Street” was played at the opening of a major annual gathering of liberal groups in Washington, as progressive organizers try to build on the protests’ momentum. “They set an example of all of us, of discipline, of non-violence…in the heart of the belly of the beast,” said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, which organized the conference. “We are going to keep building here, over the next three days—we’re going to build plans for the next 18 months.”


With attendees from Washington’s major progressive institutions — from and labor unions to the Center for American Progress and members of the House Progressive Caucus — the CAF conference had already been planned a Wednesday march on Capitol Hill to advocate for “jobs not cuts.” Now the conference’s progressive leaders are urging them to support a D.C. offshoot of Occupy Wall Street,” which converged Sunday at McPherson Square. On Thursday, they’ll protest the role of corporate money in politics. “Occupy K Street is starting. It’s from Wall Street to K Street,” says Liz Butler, campaign director for climate advocacy group 1Sky. “To send the same message to corporate lobbyists that’s being sent to Congress and Wall Street. It’s a beautiful moment of convergence — versus Wall Street, versus cuts, for our future.”

But exactly how these long-standing progressive groups will relate to “Occupy Wall Street is still unclear. Local union affiliates have joined the New York protesters and contributed food to the encamped participants, but the movement has yet to converge upon the kind of agenda that established groups have been pushing for. In fact, the CAF conference will be organizing a lunch Tuesday to discuss the best way to support the expanding protests — and, perhaps, to link their own organizing efforts with the burgeoning movement. You can watch a live feed of the three-day conference here.

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