ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – As thousands of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators took to the streets Thursday to mark two months since the movement began — Occupy demonstrators were out locally in Royal Oak and Detroit.
Chanting “We are the 99,” about 50 people gathered for a protest in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church on Woodward Avenue near 11 Mile.
Lisa Kunick came out from Shelby Township. Her chief concern is jobs.
“I’m not out of a job personally, but I’ve had friends who have been out of work,” Kunick told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Sandra McNeil. “I know my husband has had pay cuts tremendously over the last six to eight years. I think that it has affected everyone.”
An organizer of Occupy Royal Oak, Frank Zarafa said the protests are moving to the suburbs because the problems –lack of jobs, low incomes and foreclosures — are issues there, too.
“In the parish I work in, we have a number of senior citizens who have to make decisions every day now about whether to buy their medicines or put food on the table,” Zarafa said.
“You know, they have to keep their homes heated. They’re not traveling as they’d hoped they would in their retirement because they can’t afford the auto insurance. They can’t afford the gas,” he said.
As for what the protesters want, Zarafa says “parity”.
“People want to see change. Not that government is the solution to everything, but government and big business together have become part of the problem,” he said.
Meantime, Occupy Detroit protesters marched from Grand Circus Park to the municipal building while they joined members of AFSCME Local 207. Both are protesting cuts in jobs, pay and what they call an assault on American workers and unions.
Specifically, city employees are angry about Mayor Dave Bing’s plan to seek a 10 percent pay cut. WWJ’s Stephanie Davie spoke on that issue with Carl, a retired city employee.
“We have been taken to the bare bone as it is now. Everyone has,” he said. “And they say they wanted X-about of people to retire. They got that number and more to retire … what’s going on? When’s someone gonna get it right?”
Davis reported some Occupy Detroit protestors briefly blocked traffic on Woodward Avenue near Congress. However, police arrived quickly and the problem was resolved with no arrests.