Occupy DC, labor unions to protest CPAC meeting

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DC,Aubrey Whelan

Occupy DC will join several major labor unions to protest the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend, hoping to divert attention from appearances by Republican presidential candidates at one of the premier gatherings of the nation's conservative activists.

The "Occupy CPAC" protest is being organized by the AFL-CIO but will trumpet a message popularized by the Occupy Wall Street movement -- "let the voices of the 99 percent be heard" -- during the protests scheduled for noon and 5 p.m. Friday. The demonstration at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where CPAC is meeting from Thursday to Saturday, will include Occupy tents, an "inflatable fat cat" and mock stump speeches, said AFL-CIO organizer Chris Garlock.

"It's all in good fun, but with a very serious message in terms of representing the 99 percent," said Garlock, who expects the protest to be non-confrontational.

The march on CPAC would be the first major mobilization of Occupy DC since Park Police cleared most of its tents from McPherson Square over the weekend.

Details of Occupy's planned protest were unavailable though the group says on its website that it plans to "create as much non-violent resistance as possible."

The AFL-CIO's Garlock said he expects Occupiers to "lead the charge" Saturday during CPAC's scheduled panel discussion of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party.

Occupiers say they're particularly upset with a number of events on CPAC's schedule, including a panel titled "The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American identity" and a "blogger briefing" from Citizens United Productions, which won a Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations and labor unions to contribute unlimited amounts of money to political action committees.

Garlock says he expects several hundred protesters to attend.

Occupiers have disrupted a number of major political gatherings during their four months in the city. They sprinkled glitter over guests at the annual Alfalfa Club dinner, at which President Obama was speaking, blocked traffic outside a gathering of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity and held a brief sit-in outside a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser, among others.

awhelan@washingtonexaminer.com

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