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At 'Occupy Walnut Creek,' a Different Face of the 99 Percent

 

Occupy Wall Street made its way to Walnut Creek Wednesday afternoon, when about 300 people rallied in solidarity with the now-nationwide movement.

From 4 p.m. until around 6:30 p.m., protesters from Walnut Creek and surrounding towns lined the sidewalk at the intersection of Main Street and Mount Diablo Boulevard, standing in front of a Bank of America branch, a Tiffany and Co. store and a handful of upscale eateries.

These photos, taken by Bay Citizen reader Steve Leibel, reveal a largely middle-aged, suburban crowd:

Organizer Ken Richard admitted he was surprised by the large turnout Wednesday afternoon, and now hopes even more people will attend next Wednesday's "Occupy Walnut Creek" rally, set for the same time and location.

Richard added that although Walnut Creek is largely seen as an upper-middle-class city, locals are "compassionate and care about America's unemployed, underemployed, and [those] living in poverty."

Standing on the sidewalk nearby, 82-year-old Bobbe Huetter of Walnut Creek said she decided to join the rally Wednesday after hearing about it on the radio.

Dozens of other protesters drove in from neighboring Contra Costa County towns.

Regardless of their hometowns, several attendees shared common stories about the effect the Great Recession has had on their lives.

One protester, 59-year-old Gary Walls of Martinez, said he retired early from his decades-long union job as a carpenter when the recession drained the area of jobs two years ago.

"I think it's a very American thing [protesters] are doing. … We're trying to get America back in shape," he said Wednesday, holding a sign topped with an American flag that read, "Eliminate Corporate Greed".

Organizers said they are already gearing up for next week's protest and plan to attend larger "Occupy" rallies in San Francisco and in Oakland this weekend.

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