Occupy Protesters Gather On Capitol Hill

The Occupy Wall Street movement came to Capitol Hill Tuesday to welcome House members back after their holiday break.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The House of Representatives began its 2012 session today. To mark the occasion, protest groups from more than a dozen different cities gathered on the Capitol lawn for the first ever Occupy Congress demonstration.

NPR's Andrea Seabrook has our story.

ANDREA SEABROOK, BYLINE: Protesters half-filled the West Lawn of the Capitol. Banners announced campaign money and taunted the, quote, "McCongress."

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING PROTESTERS)

SEABROOK: Police officers watched the crowd. On the other end of the lawn people mingled, eating free bagels and fruit. And there was another free service at a folding table stuck in the mud.

TRAVIS MACARTHUR: We're helping people connect with their members of Congress. So we have information sheets on their voting records, the top campaign contributors, and information about how they can go meet them now.

SEABROOK: Travis MacArthur leafs through stacks of packets. He'd already sparked Mike Schachter of New Bern, North Carolina, to go see his representative, Republican Walter B. Jones. Schachter walked right into his office.

MIKE SCHACHTER: We do agree on ending the wars, on taking money out of politics, and that corporations were not people. And I asked him to remain independent even though I know his own party is pushing against it.

SEABROOK: Another protester, Roxana Marroquin, approached MacArthur's table. She hesitated.

ROXANNA MARROQUIN: What are you trying to get people to realize?

MACARTHUR: Well, for instance, the information on how their representatives voted isn't necessarily that accessible. So we want to let people know so they can hold them accountable...

MARROQUIN: Are they're listening to us? I don't think they're listening to us.

SEABROOK: Marroquin came down from Occupy Jersey City. She said the old political model is broken.

MARROQUIN: We could talk and talk but they're just going to brush us away.

SEABROOK: So what do you do? If not go to talk to your congressman, how do you change anything?

MARROQUIN: I don't know what the answer to that is but we need to come up with it quick, 'cause something is broken.

SEABROOK: At least that idea, that something is broken, is one most Americans seem to agree with.

Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, the Capitol.

(SOUNDBITE OF A SONG)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) The banks got bailed out and we got sold out. And we are here to stay.

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