200 Occupy, union protesters rally on Howard St. bridge

Chanting "We are the 99 percent," more than 200 protesters affiliated with Occupy Baltimore, unions and an activist group called Good Jobs Better Bmore marched across the Howard Street bridge during rush hour Thursday evening.

The protesters, who threw a large banner over the side of the bridge urging society to "Bridge the gap" between rich and poor, said they were there to oppose economic inequality in the United States and call for more infrastructure projects, such as repairing bridges.

Julie Ferris, spokeswoman for Good Jobs Better Bmore, said police had approved the march, but not the use of the banner.

"That's a surprise," she said.

The march kicked off at Joe Squared in Station North and lasted about two hours.

Activist Mary Hill, 40, of Columbia, led cheers with a bullhorn. An unemployed union construction worker, she said she was there to encourage spending on repairing aging bridges and roads.

"Instead of cutting government programs, we need to invest in infrastructure, so people like me can feed my kids," she said. "We're everyday people that you see at the grocery store, that you go to church with, that you pass on the street. This is how we feel."

The Service Employees International Union promoted the march, which called for better jobs for Baltimore workers and more public works projects.

The State Highway Administration says there are currently 106 structurally deficient bridges in Maryland. 

In recent weeks, Occupy Baltimore and affiliated groups have held rallies and protests. Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, a group called Another BDC is Possible protested Baltimore Development Corp. policies and persuaded its president M.J. "Jay" Brodie to meet with them. Occupy Baltimore members on Tuesday also interrupted Republican strategist Karl Rove's speech at Johns Hopkins University with chants before security guards could escort them out. Occupy members also assisted with a Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) protest in Harbor East over funding for city schools.



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