The Occupy Wall Street movement that spread to Los Angeles this week has now popped up 100 miles east in the Coachella Valley, where unemployment is as high as 20 percent in some desert cities.
Just short of 100 people are expected to protest Saturday, Oct. 8 from 2 to 5 p.m. outside Rep. Mary Bono Mack's Office in Palm Desert, according to an organizer John-Paul Valdez.
"I’m feeling a lot of response here. I think it will help put us on the map to understand we are every bit as viable as Los Angeles and New York. It might be seen as far away in terms of Wall Street but it is in every way a local movement," Valdez said.
He noted the movement is non-partisan and wants Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, to realize that Coachella Valley residents are hurting because of the economy and the mortgage crisis.
"Our lives are more difficult here in the valley. This is the hardest hit area here in California. It’s even worse here in Riverside County," the former banker said.
Valdez, who said his home is underwater, lives in Desert Hot Springs, which has an unemployment rate of 20 percent -- much higher than the national rate of 9.1 percent.
Two other branches of the movement have sprung up at the (COD) in Palm Desert and in Indio.
Jayel, who co-founded an anti-war group, "Come Home America Coachella Valley" at the COD, told Patch that he plans to join Valdez's event on Saturday.
"One thing I do want to make clear is that this 'Occupy' movement is not a leftist movement. It’s not a Democratic movement. It’s not a liberal tea party,'' Aheram said.
The antiwar group -- a conservative-libertarian coalition of antiwar activists -- has grown to 15 people and organized the valley's first two "Occupy Coachella Valley" events earlier this month, he said.
He said they "are protesting a policy started by a right wing conservative president and continued by a left wing president."
In Indio, a group that has dubbed itself "Occupy Coachella Valley" has an event planned for Oct. 22 at Indio City Hall.
The group is using a Facebook page to organize and spread the word.
"Soon we will move all across the valley,'' one Facebook post stated.