Occupy Wall Street made its way to Walnut Creek this afternoon, when about 300 people rallied in solidarity with the now nation-wide movement.
From 4 p.m. until around 6:30 p.m., protestors from Walnut Creek and surrounding towns lined the sidewalk at the intersection of Main Street
and Mount Diablo Boulevard, standing in front of a Bank of America branch, a Tiffany and Co. store and a handful of upscale eateries.
Local residents of all ages and from various political groups, labor unions and student organizations turned out at the peaceful
demonstration, many bearing signs and American flags and wearing nametags that read "99%".
About half a dozen police officers stood along the sidewalks monitoring the event, but as of 6 p.m., police said there had not been any arrests or confrontations with demonstrators.
"Occupy Walnut Creek" organizers said word of the event spread quickly over the past week via email, Facebook and phone calls.
Organizer Ken Richard admitted he was surprised by the large turnout Wednesday afternoon, and now hopes even more people will attend next
Wednesday's "Occupy Walnut Creek" rally, set for the same time and location.
Richard added that although Walnut Creek is largely seen as an upper-middle-class city, locals are "compassionate and care about America's unemployed, underemployed, and (those) living in poverty."
Standing on the sidewalk nearby, 82-year-old Bobbe Huetter of Walnut Creek said she decided to join the rally Wednesday after hearing about
it on the radio.
Dozens of other protesters today drove in from neighboring Contra Costa County towns.
Regardless of their hometowns, several attendees shared common stories about the effect the Great Recession has had on their lives.
One protestor, 59-year-old Gary Walls of Martinez, said he retired early from his decades-long union job as a carpenter when the recession drained the area of jobs two years ago.
"I think it's a very American thing (protesters) are doing...we're trying to get America back in shape," he said Wednesday, holding a sign
topped with an American flag that read, "Eliminate Corporate Greed".
Instead of a sign, Randall Baker, 26, of Martinez carried a 24-pack of bottled water, distributing bottles to protestors this afternoon and returning to his car, where he'd stowed eight more packs, to hand out more.
"I know it's hot, and I don't want anyone passing out," said Baker, who is unemployed.
Organizers said they are already gearing up for next week's protest and plan to attend larger "Occupy" rallies in San Francisco and in Oakland this weekend.