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Crowd gathers in Gary to rally for jobs

PaulPeeples Gary Ind. wears butther hthshe says symbolizes American dream following 'Rally For Jobs Not Cuts' held TollestPark Gary Ind.

Paula Peeples of Gary, Ind., wears a button on her hat that she says symbolizes the American dream following a "Rally For Jobs, Not Cuts" held at Tolleston Park in Gary, Ind., Saturday, October 15, 2011. The gathering was held in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement. | Guy Rhodes~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 15, 2011 9:53PM

GARY — A small but vocal crowd gathered Saturday at Tolleston Park to rally for jobs not budget cuts as part of the American Dream Movement.

Waving signs and chanting, the group of about 50, including representatives from at least four area unions, called for Congress to turn its attention back to the 99 percent -- the working class and poor — and away from the 1 percent, the rich and corporations.

“We are doing this partly in solidarity with the Occupy movement,” Miller resident Gregg Hodgson, co-organizer of the rally, said.

“Until we get more people working and spending money, this nation is not going to be able to move forward. Congress is talking the talk — jobs, jobs, jobs — but it’s not walking the walk,” he said.

Highland resident Margaret Hagerman, rally co-organizer, called on those attending the event to put the pressure on their legislators to remember their constituents in Northwest Indiana and stop the attack on organized labor by trying to turn the state into a right-to-work state.

“They have to see their constituents are not just the people in Carmel, Ind., and in Fishers, Ind. They are the people in Gary, Ind., and Lake County, Ind.,” Hagerman said to cheers.

Henry Bell of Gary came out to the rally to show his support. Bell counts himself among the lucky, as both he and his wife are employed.

“I am trying to support the right people doing the right things. One day Gary will be back on its feet,” Bell said.

Michigan City resident Martha Maust said until the spending power of the middle class is returned, the economy will continue to falter. The retiree said she is not concerned for herself but for her three children and their children.

“I think that as the income for middle Americans and the poor has gone down, their buying power is steadily getting worse. It’s abominable,” Maust said, adding that when the average person is not spending money, corporations sit on their capital and do not invest because they know no one is spending.

Elyxenia Acrey, a home health care worker in Griffith and Gary, said the health care reform that just passed means a lot but it is not enough.

“Congress needs to stop dilly-dallying and making (reforms) personal. It’s not about them. They’re totally out of touch with what’s really going on with the American people. So long as there are no jobs, the crime rate will continue to rise and it will be their fault,” Acrey said.

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