TAMPA — Behind a kid with blue hair, in front of an old guy in tie-dye and overalls, walked a man named Dale Smrekar. He wore a button-down shirt, tie and name tag specifying his profession: estate liquidator.
This wasn’t his usual crowd.
But Smrekar said he’s fed up — by big corporate profits, by a shrinking middle class, by college graduates with huge debts and few job prospects. So he decided to join a Thursday afternoon protest march of nearly 600 people through downtown.
“The banks got bailed out, and the people got screwed,” said Smrekar, 61, of Tampa. “It seems like the American dream is fading away very quickly.”
Occupy Tampa, a spin-off of the ongoing New York City demonstrations called Occupy Wall Street, organized its largest event on Thursday. Similar solidarity demonstrations are popping up in other cities.
The Tampa group gathered in Lykes Gaslight Square, where demonstrators held “workshops” on strategies and waved signs ranging from “Being Greedy is not the Key to Goodness” to “Don’t Pepper Spray Me, Bro.”
They borrowed heavily from their New York counterparts, including a lack of specific demands. But the gist is that the country is being controlled by the wealthiest Americans — the 1 percent — to the detriment of everyone else. Hence, their slogan, “We are the 99 percent!”