CHICAGO—The local spin-off of the Occupy Wall Street protests born in Manhattan released 12 proposed demands during the weekend, some of the first specifics to emerge from collection of groups that have sprung up in recent weeks across the U.S.
Occupy Chicago, an independent group inspired by the New York protests, which take aim at corporations and the wealthy, appear to be the first in the movement to adopt official demands: Repeal the Bush tax cuts and prosecute “Wall Street criminals.” At an open meeting Saturday in downtown Chicago, nine-tenths of the nearly 300 present voted to adopt those demands.
This week, the group plans to vote on other proposed demands, which include giving the Securities and Exchange Commission more regulatory power, forgiving student debt, reforming campaign-finance law and enacting the so-called Buffett Rule, a White House proposal to prevent millionaires from paying lower tax rates than middle-class Americans.
Occupy Wall Street has taken flak for not announcing specific demands in a protest that has engulfed sections of lower Manhattan and is now entering its fourth week. Bill Dobbs, a member of the Occupy Wall Street press committee, said he doesn’t know of plans to adopt specific demands.
“I mean, I’ve got my own set of demands,” he said. But “all our energy is going to ringing the alarm bells about economic conditions in this country.”
Evelyn DeHais of Occupy Chicago said it became clear in early meetings that policy reform would be a part of the protests here.
“People wanted to talk about what real change can be made,” said Ms. DeHais, who, with 20 others, condensed hundreds of suggestions from protesters into the group’s proposed list of 12. She said she disagrees with some of the demands, “but that’s the point. It’s not about what one person believes. It’s making sure the entire group is being spoken for.”
Mr. Dobbs said his group isn’t formally affiliated with the hundreds of copycat protests that have sprouted across the nation, “but we’re really happy people are protesting.…There’s mutual respect with our brothers and sisters in Chicago.”
Occupy Seattle has posted 52 proposed demands on its website, asking people to vote on each. The proposals are less specific than Occupy Chicago’s, such as “tax the rich and big business.” Some are more radical, such as “nationalize the banks.”
Other lists of proposed demands have circulated on the Internet, but none appear to have formal ties to the Occupy protest groups.
In Chicago, where protesters have occupied the sidewalks outside the Federal Reserve Bank for 17 days, the protests gained momentum during the weekend. The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at a Friday night meeting, and hundreds turned out for marches through downtown Saturday in conjunction with a long-planned anti-war protest.