News Release

Protesters Enter Congress; Trade Deals Show “Contempt”

According to organizers, there were at least three arrests this morning as protesters entered Congressional office buildings and chanted “We are the 99 percent,” “End the wars, tax the rich” and “Senators for sale go to jail.” For further information and forthcoming video clips, see.

Meanwhile, Congress is reportedly close to holding a vote on the South Korea, Colombia and Panama FTAs [Free Trade Agreements], with the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak beginning a tour of the U.S. and scheduled to address a joint meeting of Congress and attend a state dinner at the White House on Thursday.

ROBERT NAIMAN, naiman at justforeignpolicy.org
Policy director of Just Foreign Policy, Naiman is participating in the protests today on Capitol Hill.

NATHAN SCHNEIDER, nathan at wagingnonviolence.org
Schneider is an editor of the website Waging Non-Violence and extensively covered the beginning of the Wall Street Occupation. He has been in D.C. for several days and will be returning to New York shortly.

CHRISTINE AHN, christineahn at mac.com
Ahn is executive director of the Korea Policy Institute and a member of Korean Americans for Fair Trade. She contrasted Obama giving speeches for his “Jobs Bill” while backing trade agreements which “will kill jobs.” She said today: “President Obama’s decision to send the three FTAs to Congress for a vote is audacious … especially at this very moment as thousands of Americans take to the streets to Occupy Wall Street. In South Korea, tens of thousands of farmers and workers have also taken to the streets of Seoul against the Korea-U.S. FTA. Workers in both countries know the deal will be disastrous for their jobs and rights, while Wall Street corporations stand to profit from their misery.”

VICKY GASS, vgass at wola.org,
Gass is senior associate for rights and development at the Washington Office on Latin America, which recently released the analysis “FTA Turns a Blind Eye to Exploitation: U.S. Ignores Labor Rights Abuses in Colombia.”

GLENN HUROWITZ,  glenn at ciponline.org
Hurowitz is senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and just wrote the piece “Obama Pushes Huge Free Trade Deals to Wednesday Vote,” which states: “If you thought President Obama’s expressions of sympathy for the Occupy Wall Street movement meant he was suddenly going to stand up for ‘the 99 percent,’ think again. Obama has just submitted to Congress the Chamber of Commerce-backed Colombia, Panama, and Korea Free Trade Agreements. And now, thanks to maneuvering by Obama and his business-friendly Chief of Staff William Daley and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, they’re on an accelerated schedule in Congress. According to a report in The Hill, they will be voted on Wednesday, where they’re expected to pass. Obama’s move is a brazen display of contempt for the Occupy Wall Street movement’s calls for jobs, economic, and environmental justice as well as human rights. These trade agreements achieve a rare trifecta of progressive punching: it’s hard to imagine a single initiative that at one time could so infuriate anti-corporate activists, labor unions, and environmentalists at the very moment that these disparate movements are finally finding solidarity and support in the streets.”