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Janesville area residents join Wall Street rallies

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Catherine W. Idzerda
October 12, 2011
— Civility, responsibility and fairness.

That’s all they’re asking for.


Oh, and if people could act their age, that would be good, too.


About 20 local residents gathered in downtown Janesville on Tuesday to rally in support of the protestors occupying Wall Street.


Jobs, health care and taxes all were on the agenda. But by far the biggest issue was bipartisanship.


“Congress is acting like a bunch of juveniles who are competing with each other,” said John Macek, rally organizer. “Congress needs to listen to each other, respect differences and identify what the problems are.”


Jeanie Johnson, Janesville, who recently lost her job, echoed those sentiments.


“Both sides of the aisle need to be working together,” Johnson said.


While ordinary people are struggling to make ends meet, the country is “being held hostage” by the inaction and bickering between parties, she said.


From the conversations, a theme emerged: Ordinary people—the “99 percent”—are being treated as negligible commodities, canon fodder in a political battle.


“We need to be holding the people at the top of the food chain responsible,” Johnson said.


To make life better for everyone, there has to be “shared sacrifice” by all income levels.


“I think people are really responding to the unfairness of things,” she said.


Soren Petersen, Afton, was not politically active until Gov. Scott Walker introduced his budget bill in February.


“It just seems like things are so unequal now,” Petersen said.


When a passing motorist yelled, “Get a job” at the protestors, Johnson’s response was, “I’m trying, I’m trying.”


“I’ve checked at the job center, and there are 32,000 jobs listed,” she said.


Unfortunately, job hunters would have to “cobble together” two or three jobs to even beginning to make ends meet, she said.


It’s even more difficult for people over 50 to find new jobs, Johnson said.


While the national protests have been made up primarily of young people, almost all of the local protestors were older than 50.


“Look around,” Johnson said. “There’s lots of gray hair around here.”


Her point? People of all ages and backgrounds are struggling, and they’re struggling harder than ever before.


The call for civil discussion was matched by their feeling that their voices were not being heard, even by the mainstream media.


Petersen, a Vietnam veteran, recently went to Washington, D.C., with the Madison chapter of Veterans for Peace.


“We were interviewed by French reporters, Italian reporters, Chinese reporters,” Petersen said.


They were not approached by any American news crews.


Johnson, too, said that the “corporate media was not doing its job.”


Those complaints have been voiced by protesters at the national level, too.



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