The people spoke loud and clear at Saturday's Occupy Tri-Cities rally. By noon, several hundred people had gathered at Richland's John Dam Plaza, where they stood shoulder to shoulder along George Washington Way, many holding homemade signs.
"Wall Street, America's Largest Casino. Help out the 99%," read one. Another read, "This Isn't a Left or Right Movement, It's a Forward Movement!" Another read, "People over Profit$."
They were there to protest corporate greed and "occupied" the plaza as part of a nationwide movement that began with the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York in mid-September.
Some drivers passing by signaled their support by honking and cheering.
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Jason Caryl organized the Occupy Tri-Cities group about two weeks ago.
"I Googled Occupy Tri-Cities, Occupy Richland, Occupy Pasco, Occupy Kennewick, and there was nothing," he said. "So I thought I'd throw a Facebook page up. I was blown away with the response."
On noon Saturday, the page had received more than 400 "likes." The group also is on Twitter on @occupytricities.
"There are a few dissenters, but so does every group. Whether they agree or not, I won't shut them down. As a group representing the 99 percent, you can't shut down one person if claiming to represent the whole," he said.
Caryl said Occupy Tri-Cities protesters will gather in John Dam Plaza from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.
"We'll stay as long as we can, weather-wise," he said.
On Saturday, National Occupy Day, the protesters came from diverse backgrounds and various age groups.
Anne Emmons, 57, a retired social studies teacher from Hermiston, said she has been a demonstrator for decades.
"What we're doing here is not protesting, we're demonstrating. We need to get people to listen. Growing up, we had civil rights, the Vietnam War, women's lib. We had a lot of issues, and we saw people demonstrating everywhere, if not live then on TV," Emmons said.
Ruben Flores, 23, drove from Wapato with his brother, Tony, 29, who is a representative for the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 1439.
"I pay taxes but feel ripped off. I came today to do my part and show support," Ruben Flores said.
Tony agreed, saying he always turns out for rallies involving anything affecting wages.
Social Security and jobs disappearing overseas weighed heavily on the mind of Roxie Garcia, 63. She lives in Richland on disability money from Social Security and said it is hard to make it stretch from month to month.
"Just this week I shut my internet access off. I have 11,000 miles on a car that's less then four years old because I can't afford the gas to drive it. The medical-drug Social Security plan doesn't begin to cover the cost of the drugs I need. Some cost $180 to $200 even after switching to generics," Garcia said. "The American dream has disappeared into the pockets of the greedy corporations and CEOs."
Kennewick resident Brian Newbold, 40, summed up why he believes Occupy Wall Street has spun off so many similar groups across the nation.
"This movement is not about one person, this movement wants everyone to be heard. The issue is the focus," Newbold said. "Corporations need to be held accountable, some action needs to be taken. This is the first step."