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Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Las Vegas

Wall Street protesters in Las Vegas are turning their ire toward local bank branches.
A few dozen Occupy Las Vegas demonstrators gathered outside a Bank of America Corp. branch Friday afternoon to urge supporters to close their bank accounts and deposit their money in credit unions. Some carried signs, including one that read, "Wake me up when the American dream is over."
Organizers said they will protest at a different bank branch every Friday afternoon while the movement continues to express its disdain over record bank profits. The group's next target is a Wells Fargo & Co. branch in Las Vegas, where organizers expect supporters to gather next week.
David Peter, 59, a local union organizer helping to lead the Occupy Las Vegas movement, said the protesters felt cheated by the federal bank bailout.
"They aren't bailing out the people losing their homes," he said. "They just care about the bankers."
The protests are unfolding as the anti-Wall Street movement grows across Nevada and the nation. Nevada demonstrators also planned protests in Reno and Carson City this weekend. The efforts are modeled after Wall Street protests in New York City blaming corporate interests for the nation's economic troubles.
Nevada officials said they do not expect to see the violent standoffs that are unfolding between law enforcement agencies and Occupy Wall Street protesters across the nation, including in Tennessee, Florida and California.
The Reno City Council voted Wednesday to grant protesters there a three-month special event permit to occupy city property on a 24-hour basis. Occupy Reno protesters plan to join their counterparts from nearby Carson City and Lake Tahoe at the annual Nevada Day Parade in Carson City on Saturday. The protesters then will gather at the Capitol Building to urge Nevadans to support local businesses over multi-national companies.
Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said he does not expect trouble. Occupy protesters have demonstrated in Carson City on previous weekends.
"All of the events have been peaceful and polite," he said. "We do not anticipate any different during Nevada Day."
In Las Vegas, protesters obtained a 30-day permit to camp in a vacant lot near McCarran International Airport and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins said officials have no plans to kick the protesters out.
"Being that we are the number one destination for everything, we know how to handle everything from boxing to races to rodeos," he said. "So I don't see any problems."
Associated Press writers Sandra Chereb in Carson City and Martin Griffith in Reno contributed to this report.

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