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August 3, 2015

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Hundreds march on Strip to protest corporate greed

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Steve Marcus

A woman who identified herself as Janelle K. holds up a sign during an Occupy Las Vegas protest on the Las Vegas Strip Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. The protest was held in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York and in other parts of the U.S.

Occupy Las Vegas demonstrators

A woman who identified herself as Janelle K. holds up a sign during an Occupy Las Vegas protest on the Las Vegas Strip Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. The protest was held in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York and in other parts of the U.S. Launch slideshow »

Protesters occupy Strip

KSNV coverage of Occupy Las Vegas, a group of protesters marching on the Strip brandishing signs against corporate greed, Oct. 6, 2011.

Pam Lobb is fed up.

The 50-year-old Las Vegas resident lost her job at a law office about a year ago. She is behind on her mortgage and has struggled to find consistent work during one of the worst recessions in the country’s history.

Lobb was one of hundreds of people who took to the Strip on Thursday afternoon for the Occupy Las Vegas march, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street protests that started in New York three weeks ago.

Since then, similar marches have sprouted in more than a dozen cities, including San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia and Boston.

Thursday’s march started in front of the New York, New York casino, and for hours protesters paraded up and down Las Vegas Boulevard waving signs, playing drums and chanting. The crowd was filled with frustration and anger about the state of the country, but there was plenty of room for excitement and optimism, too.

“It’s about time American citizens woke up to how corporate greed is affecting us,” Lobb said. “It’s nice to see there’s more and more people who know what’s going on.”

The protests have been billed as an outcry against bank bailouts, corporate greed and the influence of money in politics. But marchers in Las Vegas each brought their own issues and concerns, ranging from ending the wars, feeding the poor, nuclear disarmament and fixing the economy.

For 24-year-old Ian Nishimure, the protests were about people having their voice heard after feeling ignored for so long.

“What we’re trying to do is to get people to come out and participate,” he said.

A recent UNLV graduate, Nishimure said he wants to see campaign finance reform to get money out of politics and allow for honest politicians to more effectively represent their constituents.

The mass of protesters was made up of an ethnically diverse group of people of all ages and numbered about 500, according to police estimates. Some were unemployed, but many chose to take off work to attend.

Dozens of Metro Police officers were on hand to control traffic and monitor the protest, but no major incidents were reported.

From sidewalks and pedestrian bridges, tourists seemed confused by all the commotion. Some stopped to take pictures, others offered cheers of encouragement and a few heckled the marchers.

Ron Marsh, on vacation from New Jersey with his family, eyed the protest from one of the bridges.

“I don’t know exactly what they’re protesting,” he said.

But he said he expects to see more movements like this sprout up if the economy doesn’t improve and people’s concerns aren’t addressed.

“It’s frightening. Our leaders in this country aren’t in touch with the working class,” he said.

Protesters acknowledged that a single march is not going to change the myriad ills they see affecting the country.

But many expressed hope that the marches in Las Vegas and around the country are the start of a larger movement that will push more people to get involved by voting or other forms of activism.

“There’s only one way to change things and that’s through the power of the masses,” 50-year-old construction worker Roger Boulin said. “I hope this movement doesn’t stop. Politicians need to start listening to the people that enough is enough.”

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