Compost heaps are seen in Zuccotti Park, where the "Occupy Wall Street" protests are currently taking place (AP Photo/Andrew Burton)
FLINT, MI (WNEM/AP) -
As the Occupy Wall Street movement gains momentum around the nation, it's also picking up steam in Mid-Michigan.
WNEM TV5 has learned that organizers plan to hold an Occupy Flint demonstration Friday in downtown Flint. The event is set to kick off at noon in front of Bank of America on Saginaw Street. Nearly 600 people are involved in the event on Facebook.
It's not known how many protestors will show up, but Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says he supports the movement.
"They need to come out and have their voices heard," said Walling. "We commend those who come out and we will have police here to protect them."
A similar protest could make its way to Saginaw Township. A new Facebook page called "Occupy Saginaw" has popped up, and it calls on users to protest next Wednesday outside of the Bank of America on Bay Road.
The page says the protestors will meet at Saginaw Valley State University and travel to the bank together. Right now at least 20 people say they'll attend the event.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began last month with a small number of young people pitching a tent in front of the New York Stock Exchange, has expanded nationally and drawn a wide variety of activists, including retirees, union members and laid-off workers.
As new groups continue to organize, demonstrators have marched in Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Anchorage, Alaska, carrying signs with slogans such as "Get money out of politics" and "I can't afford a lobbyist."
The protests are in some ways the liberal flip side of the tea party movement, which was launched in 2009 in a populist reaction against the bank and auto bailouts and the $787 billion economic stimulus plan.
But while tea party activists eventually became a crucial part of the Republican coalition, the Occupy Wall Street protesters are cutting President Barack Obama little slack. They say Obama failed to crack down on the banks after the 2008 mortgage meltdown and financial crisis.
"He could have taken a much more populist, aggressive stance at the beginning against Wall Street bonuses, and exacting certain change from bailing out the banks," said Michael Kazin, a Georgetown University history professor and author of "American Dreamers," a history of the left. "But ultimately, the economy has not gotten much better, and that's underscored the frustration on both the right and the left."
Obama on Thursday acknowledged the economic insecurities fueling the nearly 3-week-old Wall Street protests. But he pinned responsibility on the financial industry and on congressional Republicans he says have blocked his efforts to kick-start job growth.
"I think people are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works," he said at a nationally televised news conference. "The American people understand that not everybody has been following the rules, that Wall Street is an example of that ... and that's going to express itself politically in 2012 and beyond."
Participants in the Occupy Wall Street protests say they have no leaders but are making decisions by consensus.
Copyright 2011 WNEM. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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