KEENE VALLEY - A crowd of about 30 people lined state Route 73 here on Sunday to protest corporate greed and income inequality.
Bob Andrews of Keene Valley organized the rally, part of a national day of action called "We Are the 99%." He told the Enterprise he was inspired by the message he witnessed when he visited the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City's Zuccotti Park several weeks ago.
"Our democracy has been subverted by the very wealthy," Andrews said. "We have lots of problems in the world and we could get together and solve those problems, but the '1 percent' blocks everything."
Yvette Tillema, of Keene, joins fellow activists for a local “We Are the 99%” rally by asking cars to honk with their signs Sunday.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
Protesters young and old gathered on both sides of the highway and sported signs reading, "Honk if you Love Democracy," "Health Care for the 99%" and other messages. Some cars honked as they drove past, prompting cheers from the crowd. Others gave a thumbs up or simply waved, and some drove by in silence. One protester mentioned that the rally drew some harsher responses from a few passersby.
Andrews said he supported President Barack Obama in 2008 but has since learned that he's "not the boss."
"He doesn't have the political mandate to really get things done," he said.
Dr. Chris Hyson, of the Mountain Medical Center in Keene, and Dr. Tracie Di Marco, of the Elizabethtown Community Hospital, had a more streamlined message - that the U.S. should get behind single-payer health care.
The idea, Hyson said, is to expand Medicare to cover all.
"Currently, we have a health system that's based on private insurance," he said. "It's profit making. We feel that profits have no business in health care. Daily, we're confronted by people that can't pay for their health care, people who lose their health care, and we feel that's immoral."
Di Marco called health insurance the "800-pound gorilla in the room."
"If we took the money that goes into health insurance in this country and put it into health care for people, we'd have plenty of money to provide care for everyone in this country, equally," she said.
Andrews said he's hopeful that the national occupy movement can translate into political momentum in 2012. He said there's been a lot of organization around environmental, education and economic policy, but "one after another they all get stopped."
The "1 percent," Andrews said, won't just get out of the way of reform.
"They're not going to say, 'Sorry, I was stepping on your toes, I didn't know,'" he said. "The goal is to promote public awareness about what's going on."