Occupy protestors kicked out of CPAC

"Occupy" protesters demonstrate at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. Jumoke Balogun

CPAC, Occupy
Jumoke Balogun

WASHINGTON -- During Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's much-anticipated speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), "Occupy" protestors conducted a silent protest that erupted into a chanting match between protestors and conservative conference attendees.

In an overflow room next door to the main ballroom broadcasting Romney's speech, about two dozen protestors stood in front of the monitors attempting to block the view, according to two conference attendees in the room.

Two college students from New Jersey, Matt Bowe and Kevin Spiley, gave Hotsheet the play-by-play.

"They weren't tall enough to block the screen, but it was still annoying," Spiley said.

The crowd started to yell at the protestors, who covered their mouths with tape and wore shirts that read, "If money is speech, poverty is silence." Bowe said people started to shout the protestors down by saying, "'You smell, get a job' -- you know, the usual stuff."

Hotsheet witnessed the protestors being escorted through the maze of conference rooms, down an escalator, through a hotel bar and out the side doors of the sprawling hotel.

By that time, the "Occupy" protestors had torn the tape off their mouths and loudly chanted, "We are the 99 percent." The group of protesters were college students from different parts of the nation who said Romney's policies would only benefit the nation's elites.

"Romney says 'I'm not concerned about the very poor,' and I'm here to say he should care, I'm one of them," said Joe Gallant, a recent graduate of George Mason University. "I'm working two jobs and still can't make it."

As the protesters were escorted out, conference participants shouted back, "We pay your rent," and moved into the hotel lobby and perimeter hotel bars chanting, "Get a job."

The Occupy movement has not received much attention at CPAC, but both radio host Laura Ingraham and commentator Ann Coulter made jokes about it.

Ingraham opened her speech with with a jab at the group. Referring to about 100 protestors outside the hotel hosting the conservative conference, she said, "You might not have seen them, but you smell them."

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