A group of about 100 Minnesotans upset about economic inequality will be in Washington, D.C. this week for a four-day rally. Thousands of protesters from around the country plan to pitch tents on the National Mall starting Monday to call attention to the need for jobs and the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
The group Minnesotans for a Fair Economy is sending two buses full of protesters. Spokesman Kevin Whelan said protesters hope to build on the momentum of the Occupy Wall Street movement and help convince Congress to pass a jobs bill.
"One thing the Occupy movement has done for the whole country, and for all kinds of groups that have been working for economic justice, good jobs, and some tax fairness, is helped crystallize a message around the 99 percent and the needs of the 99 percent as opposed to the one percent that are getting vastly more than their share of the wealth and honestly vastly more of their share of attention from politicians," he said.
Joseph Speranzella is one Minnesotan heading to the rally. He said it won't be the first time he's lived in a tent. When he lost his construction job two years ago, he lived with his wife and five children at a campground for nearly two months.
"The common idea about homelessness has to do with mental illness and alcoholism and that sort of thing, but that's not the way that it really works now," Speranzella said. "And we're really upset that the government is bailing out banks and the banks are turning around and foreclosing on people."
The family now rents a home in Bloomington and is trying to survive on his wife's income from a part-time job. Speranzella says he wants lawmakers to focus on creating jobs.
The group will return to Minnesota on Friday.