WASHINGTON— Pacing along the west lawn of the Capitol on Tuesday, Adam Lassila waved his bright yellow sign as he chanted anti-corporate America slogans as he faced a barrier of police officers.
“Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” the Massachusetts resident yelled.
Organized by Occupy Congress, approximately a thousand protesters including Lassila rallied to decry the influence of corporate money on Congress.
Hours before the protest began, the Democratic National Committee confirmed that President Barack Obama will accept his party’s 2012 presidential nomination at the Bank of America stadium in downtown Charlotte, N.C., home of the Panthers NFL team.
For Occupy Congress protester Lucky Tran, the announcement was “unsurprising.”
“It is unsurprising because of the way the political system runs. It favors corporations,” he said. “If you are talking about politicians and their campaign finances, they are obviously going have speeches in front of corporate institutions. That is wrong.”
Tran traveled from New York to attend the protest, which was intended to send the movement’s anti-corporate greed message to Congress as it resumed business after a December break.
“The broken system of society is caused by the corporate culture and this (the Obama announcement) is just the latest example,” he said.
Convention officials say they are not concerned about the name of the stadium because Obama has a strong record of pushing for Wall Street reform.
In 2008, then-Sen. Obama accepted the Democratic nomination at a packed Invesco Field in Denver. According to the Charlotte Observer, moving the Sept. 6 speech from the convention site — the Time Warner Cable Arena — to the Bank of America stadium was a means to replicate the staging of the 2008 speech.
The 74,000-seat stadium also will “serve as a perk to donors, who could be rewarded with skybox seats,” the paper wrote.
However, this year the DNC is prohibiting funds from corporations, political organizations and federal lobbyists, convention officials said. Additionally, donations from individuals will be capped at $100,000.
The choice to hold the speech at a Bank of America stadium angered some of the Occupy Congress protesters.
“The DNC could make a statement to the people that says, ‘We are not going to be holding on to corporations’ special interests,’” said Lassila. “’We are not going to hold an event basically sponsored by corporate America,’”
“It is obvious that the government is not working for us, but for corporations like these big banks,” said Ned Jeter, an Occupy Congress protester from New York.
After the 2008 financial crisis, Bank of America was one of several major banks to receive a federal bailout.
“Money should not play a role in politics because the way it is right now is that money is buying votes,” Jeter said.
Jennifer Drury, an Occupy Congress protester from New Haven, Conn., still said Obama should hold his acceptance speech in a public place.
“He should be doing his speech somewhere in a public space, somewhere that is removed from the influence of these greedy corporations,” she said.
Drury suggested making the speech on the White House lawn or in front of the Capitol.