Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 | 10 p.m.
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Andrew Hamby is one of the many faces of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The 23-year-old Las Vegan went from having a job at Mandalay Bay, a home and a car, to living on the street.
“I became homeless in 2007 when I got laid off along with 2,700 other people,” Hamby said. “Lost my house, lost my car, moved in with my mom for a little while until she got kicked out of her home. Then I lived under a tunnel for a couple months. Now I’m staying with friends.”
So Hamby, along with men and women and children from all walks of life, took to the streets Saturday to protest corporate greed. The group joins the core Occupy Wall Street development that has sparked similar protests in many major U.S. cities for the past few weeks.
The hundreds of Fremont Street demonstrators shared similar stories. An elderly woman who is on the verge of losing her house, a disabled vet whose friends can’t find work, and a union steward who says she’s standing up for “the working man.”
“We’re all standing together now,” Hamby said. “It’s not every man for himself anymore, or at least that’s what I hope to try and make happen here.”
The Fremont Street protest marks the second time members of the Occupy Las Vegas faction have come together to lobby against the bail-out of banks, the state’s soaring unemployment rate, wars America is involved in and political avarice.
Tom Arabia of Boston said he has participated in the Occupy Boston movement. While visiting Las Vegas for a work-related conference, he stopped in to join the local march.
As one of the more vocal people in the crowd, he led the pack in chants such as “We got sold out, banks got bailed out” and “This is what democracy looks like.”
“There are people here who really represent a broad sweep of society,” Arabia said. “I feel everyone’s pain. I recognize the injustices, not just the idea of banks getting bailed out — but also war, also racism, discrimination. You look at the plight of women in the world today, and they’re still not as equal as they should be. All of these issues are related.”
Like Arabia, many of the so-called "99 percenters" list a number of reasons for protesting. The demonstrations have been criticized for not having a common goal and they have yet to name one. Most agree that the inequality between the haves, which they say is the 1 percent, and the have-nots, the 99 percent, has been caused by a number of factors.
Pat Lester, a 67-year-old native Las Vegan, has a list of complaints against the federal government and big banks.
“There are so many reasons why I’m protesting,” she said. “There are so many issues. It was like we bailed out Wall Street, but what happened to the little people? It’s survival of the fittest now and obviously we’re not the fittest.”
Occupy Las Vegas members have not set a date for a future protest but, nationally, there seems to be no immediate end to the movement.
Chris Trace, a tourist visiting from Wisconsin, joined the demonstration, which she believes stands for equality. As a union steward for the Teamsters in her home state, she said she will continue to fight for workers’ rights.
“Hopefully it creates awareness,” Trace said. “Why should the rich keep getting get richer?”