Occupy NH returns to Veterans Memorial Park in Manchester
MANCHESTER - For the second consecutive weekend, people gathered at Veterans Memorial Park as part of Occupy New Hampshire, the local version of a movement that started on Wall Street a month ago.
Some participants left the park to briefly picket outside Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's headquarters several blocks away. The group stood outside holding signs while Romney thanked his campaign workers inside.
Shannon Thompson of Canterbury led the group in chanting 'Thank you, Mr. Romney' and said the presidential candidate was welcome to 'come down to park and participate in true democracy.'
The group returned to the park without seeing Romney because members 'had work to do,' demonstrator Mark Provost told his peers.
About 50 members gathered in the park at noon.
It was the group's first gathering since five members were arrested Wednesday night for refusing to leave Veterans Memorial Park in violation of the city's curfew.
Saturday's gathering drew young and old, Democrats and Republicans, gay and straight, retirees and studentsd, workers and the unemployed. Some were concerned about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, others about an economy that has left millions without jobs, and others about the environment.
Janet Kelly, who is retired and lives in Manchester, held a sign saying: 'Take money out of politics.'
Kelly said she lost the equity in her home while her life's savings has dwindled to almost nothing. She noted she lost $10,000 in 2008 when the country's financial system nearly crashed.
'I've always had a job,' Kelly said, but a son who graduated from Colby College with a heavy loan burden has been unable to find a job.
Will Thomas, coordinator of NH Veterans for Peace, said: 'Peace with justice is part of the fabric of social change that is needed to establish an equitable, sustainable culture that benefits the 99 percent, not just the 1 percent making the decisions for all. The only way we are going to get on the road to that goal is to strike a common cause with the many organizations already struggling for a better life.'
Tom Hey of Amherst held up a magazine article about the occupy movement. He told the group, 'We have picked a fight with the most powerful political and economic forces on this planet, and that is frightening,' but he urged people to keep moving forward.
The Occupy movement has spread from Wall Street to cities across the country; in Manchester last week, about 200 people gathered.
Saturday's gathering began with about 50 people about noon, but the crowd grew in the afternoon.