Activists propose 'shutting down' candidate offices during Iowa caucuses
October 31st, 2011
07:36 PM ET
11 years ago

Activists propose 'shutting down' candidate offices during Iowa caucuses

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – Occupy Wall Street activists plan to amass in Iowa one week before the Iowa caucuses - up to the day they're held on Jan. 3, CNN has learned.

The plan has been dubbed the "First in the Nation Caucus Occupation" - a play on words for the first-in-the-nation presidential contest. The idea is to have activists from across the nation, and possibly beyond, descend on Iowa.

The plan: "people coming to Iowa, occupying every presidential (candidate's) office, shutting them down until they start talking real turkey about what's going on in this country, where the 99% of the people who are not benefiting, at the expense of the 1% who are getting away with murder," said Frank Cordaro, one of the organizers.

The plan is to target offices for Republican candidates and President Barack Obama's campaign offices in the state.

On Monday evening, a group of Occupy Des Moines activists - who crafted the proposal - presented it to the larger group, seeking an endorsement.

The larger group of 50 to 60 Occupy Des Moines activists backed the idea. Following that, an invitation went out to Occupy Wall Street groups nationwide and beyond to come to Iowa. Thus far, organizers say, they've eyed the dates of December 27 through January 3.

If the protests occur, it appears they would be unprecedented for the Iowa caucus season. They could also spark clashes between Occupy Wall Street activists and scores of conservatives.

On Oct. 22 roughly two dozen Occupy Des Moines activists protested outside a gathering of about 1,000 conservatives attending the Iowa Faith and Freedom coalition in Des Moines.

After being ordered from the front of the venue, activists heckled attendees: "Is this the freedom you preach?"

Presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum attended the event, though it's unclear whether any came in contact with the protesters.

Asked whether protesters intend to disrupt the caucuses and whether their "occupation" might turn violent, Cordaro said:

"Disrupt does not mean violent. We're not going to destroy any property. We're not going to hurt anybody. We're just going to, with our bodies, occupy these offices or shut them down until they actually start talking about the real issues that are facing the 99% of the people who are losers in this country."

"We're not going to prevent anybody from voting. We're not against the actual electoral process. We're against the people who own it right now. And we're trying to reclaim it. We're not trying to destroy it," he added.

Said another creator of the idea, Jessica Reznicek: "Through the occupation of these political campaign headquarters, and actions, we intend to make our voices more known."

The Iowa Republican Party did not respond to requests for comment about the protest plan. The Iowa Democratic Party issued a statement saying they "understand" the frustrations of the protesters.

"That's why we're working hard to make sure President Obama is reelected," party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky said in a statement. "While President Obama is working to strengthen middle class, make sure millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share and reign in Wall Street, Republicans want to let Wall Street write their own rules and return to the same failed economic policies that got us into this mess."

Drew Ivers, a member of the Iowa GOP's Central Committee, was critical of any Occupy Wall Street-type protests.

"They will be engaged in a fruitless effort, because all they will do is create a lot of overtime hours for the Des Moines Police Department, who will make sure they are not obstructing any activity in any of those offices," Ivers said. "So I think their plan is futile."

"I think it's poor judgment on their part to express their frustration of the system," he added. "They should be shutting down, demonstrating outside the halls of the U.S. Capitol, and maybe the president himself."

Ivers also defended his party's presidential hopefuls as "attempting to change the economic plight, not add to it."

"I sympathize with (the Occupy Wall Street) frustration. But I disagree with their methods."

- Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Occupy Wall Street
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Jesse

    I live in Central Iowa, please stay away from here. We have enough chaos every four years when the candidates and the cable companies come to town. I know you like being on the news but just stay home and occupy your own state please.

    November 1, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Maryann - Orlando FL

    A true centrist (HA!) said: "OR, can we all agree that these are a bunch of lazy people who don't want to work, want to live off the donations of others and play like children all day?"

    No, we cannot all agree on that, because it is untrue. YOU (yes, you) can watch their hard world every day and everynight on the Global Revolution livestream, if you TRULY wanted to know what was going on there. But you won't. Because you are not a true centrist.

    November 1, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. John

    why waste the time there isn't one of them worth voting for!

    November 1, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. Gino Martell

    Stop calling these folks anarchist. These are our young AMericans. They have graduated from college to learn that all they have is mammoth debt to the financial empire.

    November 1, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. Mance Lotter

    oh no! they're occupying iowa! the world economy lives and dies in des moines. here, take all my money, you deserve it more than i do!

    November 1, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  6. Mance Lotter

    Gino, please don't tell me what I can and cannot call these protesters. as to the college kids, why would they take on so much debt if they despise the "financial empire" so much? doesn't seem very bright to me.

    November 1, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. Karen

    That's great news! Yes, come to Iowa. I think most Iowans will welcome you to the process on caucus night. But seriously bring your WARMEST gear. The temps can be brutally cold in January.

    November 1, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. anne

    The OWS people I know in SLC will organize carpools to get to Iowa. Those that have jobs will figure out a way to stay until 1/3 – the day after the holiday – if they can. And the press release said they would be protesting ALL candidates including Obama

    OWS participants across the nation have not been violent yet, and have continued to state they are a non violent group. Only violence has occurred when local police have tried to stop peaceful occupations. The excess violence of rubber bullets and tear gas has come from police – no weapons from protesters, many of whom have kept their occupied spaces clean, and are not defecating in the streets! They ARE accomplishing SOMETHING because the tea party and the GOP are escalating the negative rhetoric about them! And the world is still watching and listening.

    November 1, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. Peikovianii

    The moment anyone tries to interfere with free elections, they should Occupy Gitmo.

    November 1, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. TasteGauJal

    This is a terrorist organization. No one, absolutely no one, can interfere will free elections in America.

    November 1, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. Democrat Party - leftist "progressive" socialist communist losers hellbent on destroying the USA

    Enough is enough. Throw all these losers in jail. Worthless leftists and anarchists. Probably all on the government dole.

    November 1, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. bill

    Gino, and thats our fault that they got a degree in something they can't use becuase it was easy.

    November 1, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. krissmith777

    They may have the right to free speech...but they DO NOT have the right to disrupt the caucus. The caucus voters have a right to not be harassed also.

    November 1, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. steven harnack

    Hey Amelia, tell me again, for the first time, why we would blame President Obama for a situation that he inherited, prevented from worsening, and has tried to ameliorate while Republicans have focused all of their energies on the unprecedented task of bringing about the faliure of an American President?

    November 1, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. steven harnack

    Hey Amelia, tell me again, for the first time, why we would blame President Obama for a situation that he inherited, prevented from worsening, and has tried to ameliorate while Republicans have focused all of their energies on the unprecedented task of bringing about the faliure of an American President? That said, I think that Occupy Iowa sounds like a bad idea. Leave Iowa to the Iowans. They deserve it and their overall influence is about equal to a f*rt in a windstorm.

    November 1, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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