Occupy Reading protesters keep presence peaceful

Posted: 8:00 PM EDT Oct 13, 2011   Updated: 12:06 PM EST Nov 17, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street protesters landed in Reading.

Friday's rally on Penn Street was small and peaceful, but other cities were forced to crack down on the movement and its members.

"I'd like to welcome you all to Reading, the poorest city in the country," said Fred Schaeff, starting the rally at 6th and Penn streets.

The Wells Fargo building provided protesters shelter from the pouring rain and a target.

"Wells Fargo here represents Wall Street," said Schaeff, president of the United Labor Council of Reading and Berks County. "They got bailed out. It's time for them to bail out Main Street."

The gathering in Reading was short compared to some where people have camped outside for weeks.

Friday, some protesters wore out their welcome in cities, like Denver, where the governor ordered people removed from a park near the capital.

In San Diego, authorities tried to forcefully remove camps to make room for a weekend event.

And in New York, police reported more than a dozen arrests, but protesters still declared victory after the city postponed cleaning of the park where a tent colony has spread over the past month.

While loud at times, protests in Reading were peaceful. Police say they were keeping an eye on things.

While clashes between authorities and protesters were stealing headlines across the country, those occupying Reading stayed focused on jobs.

"What do we want? Jobs! When do we want them? Now," chanted the crowd.

"Labor unions are here for jobs and that's where our focus is," said Michael Davis, vice president of the Eastern Region of the Communications Workers of America.

Several unions made their presence known, including members of the United Steel Workers Local 6996. They're heading into their 31st week of a lockout at Hoffman Industries in Spring Township.

"What we're interested in is getting back to work on an equitable agreement," said Dean Showers, president of the United Steelworkers Local 6996.

Inequity is what this movement has been about, the self-described 99 percent against the country's wealthy elite.

"We are the voter. We are Americans," said Jason Acree, IBEW Local 126. "We are the workforce of this nation."