Protesters stage sit-ins at congressional offices, demand meetings over economy

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Michele Bachmann's office has protesters in it
Minnesotans representing the 99% are staging sit-ins at their congressional representatives' offices in Washington.

The protesters arrived at the offices of Michele Bachmann, Chip Cravaack, John Kline, and Erik Paulsen earlier this morning to demand meetings about extending unemployment benefits and passing President Obama's jobs bill.

So far, the group has had some success meeting with legislators: Kline came out to the lobby and spoke with them earlier this morning, so they've left his office. The other congressional offices remain under occupation.

Rod Huinker, a semi-retiree from Red Wing, led the delegation to Kline's office.

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John Kline was cordial with protesters
Huinker said Kline was "very cordial" and listened to the protesters address their concerns.

"I told him who I was and told him the group here were all Minnesotan, and we were concerned about two key issues: unemployment extension and the jobs bill," Huinker said.

Kline told the protesters he was in favor of extending unemployment benefits but without raising taxes, then left after an aide told him he was "due for a meeting."

Meanwhile, the protests at Bachmann, Cravaack's and Paulsen's offices continue.

"We're sitting here in Paulsen's office, waiting to be heard," Jenny Carpenter, a protester from St. Paul, tells City Pages. "99% of the people need jobs and need healthcare."

Carpenter's message for Paulsen is to address the crummy economy.

"I would say that we need jobs. We need jobs in Minnesota," Carpenter said. "They need to vote on extending unemployment benefits. Nobody's getting a job tomorrow."

The protesters say they plan to stay until their voices are heard by their legislators.

"We are at this point saying we will stay until they agree to talk to us," said Kevin Whelan, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy spokesman, who helped organize the trip.

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