Voices: Six Wall Street protesters

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What do the protesters taking part in the demonstrations that have swept the US in recent days want?

The BBC profiles six of the very different characters who attended one of the rallies in Cleveland in the US state of Ohio.

Jacob Wagner, 25, law and business student

Jacob Wagner

My family has gone through a lot this past decade. I've seen the effects of the corporate domination of government institutions at the expense of the working classes. Enough is enough.

We really need to even the economic playing field of elections. Right now, one vote is equal to another only in a tally. If you donate $1,000 to a politician's campaign and I donate a dollar, he's not going to listen to me, he's going to listen to you.

My parents and my brother all have a lot of health problems. They lost their health insurance because my dad lost his job. My family sometimes struggles to eat, pay the bills, pay the mortgage.

I know that other people are going through the same times. I know that a lot of people... think America is number one and it can't get any better than this. It can. Our public transportation is garbage. We're not moving towards clean energy - they're keeping us dependent on oil. That's why I want to help people become aware. I want to help people wake up and not be afraid to speak out against something that's wrong.

Greg Coleridge, 52

Greg Coleridge

For a very long time I have been concerned about the growing political and constitutional rights of business corporations to not only influence and shape our economic policies but to govern, to be involved in decisions that affect our communities, and our families, and our environment.

It seems like that among the subset of business corporations that are the most powerful are the financial - the banks. They invest in political candidates. Look at what happened following the economic implosion of 2008: they got off scot-free. Still nobody's been indicted, and they got bailed out. The quote-unquote reforms that were passed were anaemic at best. This subset of corporations are so powerful that trying to work within the system is basically fruitless. You have to do an end-run and build a social movement, a political movement, a grassroots movement.

Many people of many stripes and many ages have increasingly come to believe that [Democrats or Republicans], it doesn't make too much difference. Changing parties, changing faces may not be sufficient. We need to change some basic defining structures. The voices of the people without money are not being heard.

Michelle Mahon, 40, union nurse

Michelle Mahon

I've been a nurse for over 20 years - internal medicine is my speciality. We are seeing patients forgoing needed medical care, emergency room visits are up since this foreclosure crisis has begun, suicides attempts are increased. Real problems: stress, hypertension, blood pressure increases. Real problems, real people.

We're the largest professional association and union of registered nurses in the US, representing about 170,000 nurses. We are out here, we are in New York, we are in Boston, we are in San Francisco, we have been protesting Wall Street. It's no longer about pay, it's no longer about jobs, it's about everything. We heard their [Occupy Wall Street protesters'] message, and we were like 'wow, they heard our message'. It's the same. If you look at the root cause of a lot of the different problems in our country, we really are all saying the same thing. It's time to blame Wall Street and make them pay their fair share. It's time.

Rev Meredith White-Zeager, 38, Presbyterian minister

Meredith White-Zeager

I'm a Christian and Jesus Christ, one of the things they said about him right when he was born was he will lift up the poor and tear the wealthy down from their thrones. Throughout the fullness of Judaeo-Christian history, God has been on the side of the poor and the needy. And in this country, where the comparison between a corporate exec's wage and worker's wage is - I think I just read - 425 to one, it seems like we've gotten out of balance.

The Bible has over 300 mentions of justice for people in poverty, for people struggling, and I think that the church needs to be down here making a statement that we support not only the people but the issues of economic justice. The Old Testament goes on and on about no usury and no exorbitant fees. [Paraphrasing Amos 2:6-8:] "The rich people, they sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals. In the house of their god they drink wine bought with fines they imposed", which seems to sum up why we're all here.

If the government or politicians would hear that there's a lot of us out here that are really the impinged and hurt, it might make a difference.

Justin Bilyj, 29, insurance broker, bartender and supporter of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul

Justin Bylij

I just want to come here and make sure I can educate my fellow Americans of some of the root causes of the greater symptoms like the corruption. We don't have a free currency system - it's monopolised by the Federal Reserve system and it's unelected bankers that basically give all of our money to their buddies, inflate interest rates.

I'm here to speak my voice and remind them who's going to champion the constitution when it comes to federal election time - Ron Paul.

We're drawing awareness. I've talked to a lot of people who have opposing viewpoints. We're here because we're angry and we want the world to know this will not stand anymore. And whether we do it through a federal mandate or federal legislation or state legislation, we're going to do something about it.

Michael Parish, 52, disabled and retired Cleveland firefighter

Michael Parish

The middle class of this country was built off of what has been demonised now as a 'public employee'. If it was not for public employees in those positions - teachers, firefighters, police officers, EMS workers - we would be in a Third-World country.

I fought fires, saved lives, protected property for 22 years. I had multiple injuries.

We don't ask for anything other than our fair share and our fair dues, and to be addressed in this manner from our so-called elected officials is a slap in the face.

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