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Thousands rally in Washington with Sharpton over employment

October 16, 2011

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WASHINGTON - Thousands of Americans led by the Rev. Al Sharpton rallied yesterday against the backdrop of the Washington Monument, calling for easier job access and decrying the gulf between rich and poor before marching to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

The rally was intended to drum up support for President Obama’s jobs plan, which died Tuesday in the US Senate. But speakers used the platform for varied causes, including condemning state laws requiring voter identification at the polls and protesting the recent execution of Troy Davis, a Georgia man convicted of killing an off-duty police officer. Davis maintained his innocence until his death and attracted thousands of supporters worldwide even though courts repeatedly ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to exonerate him.

Chanting for jobs and justice, many demonstrators carried banners for their labor unions and wore pins or T-shirts bearing King’s likeness. Obama is scheduled to speak today at the dedication ceremony for the memorial, the first monument dedicated to a black leader on the National Mall.

Sharpton, the featured speaker at the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice, blasted the Senate for its failure to pass Obama’s $450 billion jobs bill. The measure includes an extension of a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, as well as money to help local governments keep teachers and other workers on the job. Obama and Senate Democratic leaders plan to try to pass elements of the measure by breaking it into pieces.

“If you can’t get the jobs bill done in the suites, then we will get the jobs bill done in the streets,’’ Sharpton said to cheers and applause.

He told the crowd that King would have supported their cause “because he stood for those who were cast down and cast back.’’ King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, was also among the speakers.

“Over 45 years ago, my father talked about a redistribution of wealth. In fact, that is probably why he was killed,’’ King said. “Because he said if America is going to survive responsibly, then it must have a redistribution of wealth.’’

— Associated Press

Financial reports show disparity among GOP

WASHINGTON - With just more than a year left in the race for the White House, campaign finance reports released yesterday offered the first major picture into the haves and the have-nots among the Republican presidential candidates.

Two of the top Republican contenders, Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, and Governor Rick Perry of Texas, have brought in more than $30 million combined. Candidates like Rick Santorum, former senator of Pennsylvania, and businessman Herman Cain raised significantly less.

The financial reports detail how flush some GOP candidates are with cash - and how nearly broke others are - heading into the final weeks before contests in key primary states.

Michele Bachmann, a leading Tea Party movement figure, reported nearly $550,000 in debt after raising $3.9 million. Her expenses included more than $130,000 spent on chartered flights with Moby Dick Airways of Virginia. She also owes Ed Rollins, former campaign chairman, about $30,000.

Reports on two of the biggest money-raisers so far - Romney and President Obama - reveal millions in contributions from party devotees and small donors alike. Some candidates are saddled with debt, such as Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker; Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor; and Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who has dropped out.

— Associated Press