Protesters "Occupy Congress" Outside Capitol

Protesters welcome lawmakers back after recess

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Occupiers protest at the Capitol as lawmakers go back to work. (Published Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012)

    Americans from across the country turned out Tuesday for an "Occupy Congress" protest outside the Capitol on the first day the House of Representatives re-convened after returning from their holiday recess.

    The Occupiers said they held the event to show Congress what democracy looks like.

    "Show Congress that the people want our voice back," said Leslie Miller. "They're supposed to be speaking for us, but they're not. So we're here trying to speak for us."

    The Occupiers said that 90 percent of the country disapproves of Congress, which they say is bought and paid for by Wall Street and banking interests.

    "Last year was the least effective year in Congress's recorded history," said Laura Gottesdiener. "So we need to talk about why people arent legislating, why people haven't been held responsible for the 2008 bailout and what type of corrupt pipeline is running from Wall Street to Washington, D.C.?"

    They said that more than 6 million Americans are disenfranchised, including those in D.C., which has no voting representation in Congress.

    "The issue is that 600,000 people don't have any representation in the federal government, and that is completely unacceptable," said Patrick Bruner.

    There were a few moments when the Occupiers challenged the lines maintained by the U.S. Capitol Police.  Four people were arrested by Capitol Police -- one for assaulting a police officer and three for crossing a police line.

    The protesters were planning to visit the offices of all 535 members of Congress, a move that has proved to be somewhat symbolic in nature considering the Senate was not in town Tuesday, and many of the House members would not be getting in until votes later in the day.

    A Capitol Police officer told NBC News' Luke Russert that many of the protesters were only getting face-time with congressional staff, as many of the members are not in town.

    The officer estimated that fewer than 700 protesters had descended onto Capitol Hill for the day's protest.

    The protest comes as the nation's capital has emerged as one of the strongest bastions of the Occupy movement, in part because the National Park Service has allowed protesters to maintain their encampments.