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Occupy the Iowa Caucuses Protest Various Campaign HQs

The “Occupy the Iowa Caucuses” movement on display in the kickoff primary state over the past several days shows that these protests can raise awareness and even make a difference without a physical space for occupation. Here are some of the more recent events:

• Protesters demonstrated at Mitt Romney’s campaign HQ, demanding that he release his tax returns, something he has said he would not do. They also specifically targeted Wells Fargo:

Des Moines police today arrested a total of 10 protesters at Mitt Romney’s campaign offices and a Wells Fargo branch office.

The protesters, all part of the Occupy Des Moines movement, demanded that Romney and Wells Fargo release their tax returns and that Romney return money donated to his 2012 presidential campaign from Wells Fargo PAC and Wells Fargo employees […]

The protests began at 2 p.m. at the Romney office, in the 2800 block of Ingersoll Avenue. Office workers had locked the doors of the campaign office before protesters arrived.

The protesters began banging on the glass windows demanding to be let into to the building. Some played musical instruments. Others built a small cardboard funnel connecting Romney’s office with a nearby Wells Fargo office.

• Protesters attempted a mic check at a large Ron Paul rally last night:

[…] when the handful of protesters arrived at the building in which Paul would speak, it was clear that a last-minute mic check effort would be difficult to pull off. More than 500 people, many of them avid Paul supporters, were waiting out a series of endorsement speeches and patriotic sing-alongs that felt a bit like the opening act of a rock show.

Paul soon took the stage, and as Adeyemi started shouting for the mic-check he was quickly surrounded by Paul supporters. Many began cheering to drown out Adeyemi’s recitation of the script he’d brought, which criticized Paul for opposing abortion rights and supporting the elimination of social programs. One Paul supporter escorted him out of the building while members of the media crowded around Heather Ryan and her 16-year-old daughter Heaven Chamberlain, two of about 12 protesters left in the building (another four had yet to arrive). The mother and daughter linked arms with the other protesters and were forced to the back of the auditorium as Paul supporters yelled at them. The small group had barely been able to disrupt Paul’s speech, with just a a brief chuckle coming from the candidate when he heard Adeyemi’s initial “mic-check!” call.

Not the most successful protest, but…

• Today, they hit up Paul campaign HQ:

Police have arrested five Occupy protesters outside the Iowa campaign headquarters of Republican presidential contender Ron Paul.

The arrests were made Thursday as demonstrators gathered to protest Paul’s proposal to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency if elected.

A spokesman for the group, Occupy the Caucuses, says they arrived at Paul’s campaign headquarters to find the doors locked. She said protesters were arrested on charges of trespassing after they refused to leave.

This has not been limited to just the Republican candidates, by the way. Last week protesters camped out in front of Barack Obama’s HQ as well as that of the Iowa Democratic Party. And organizers say they plan to hit the HQ of every campaign in the state, Democratic or Republican, between now and the caucuses on January 3.

Certainly this is a big stage for the Occupy movement, with reporters from around the nation in Iowa. And they’ve been able to get out their message against corporatocracy in a number of sometimes innovative ways. I see this as the first step to a year-long parallel movement building, separate from the Presidential election but also trying to cash in on the publicity surrounding it.

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David Dayen

David Dayen