DADE CITY — As locals gather Saturday outside the historic courthouse to protest corporate greed and income inequality, the Occupy Dade City effort will have some unexpected allies:
A half-dozen residents of upscale Lake Jovita who will sacrifice their weekend golf dates to join the cause.
"Too many people are tone deaf to the empowerment that these assemblies represent," said Anne Writer, a retired registered nurse who marched for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam. "But for me, this isn't a recession. It's robbery."
The Occupy Wall Street movement began in September as an uprising against corporate interests and the top 1 percent who control the vast amount of wealth in America, but has spread across the country as protesters held Occupy events in their communities. Some residents here say the message resonates across financial lines.
"This is not a political issue, but a human rights and fairness issue," said Cindy Scialabba, another Lake Jovita resident who plans to attend Saturday's rally. "The rich are getting richer with no watchdog to control all the greed. No one begrudges that some people are wealthy, as long as reasonable amounts of the record corporate profits are reinvested to provide jobs and opportunities in the United States for the poor and middle class. I just wish they'd get the message."
Dade City lawyer Charlie Waller, who described himself as a 1 percenter, said he doesn't understand what the protesters around the country want — aside from a handout.
"From what I see, these protesters just want to party," Waller said. "They are rude, crude and totally doing a disservice to whatever it is they hope to accomplish. … At the same time, you come and ask me for a job with your pants around your knees, your underwear showing, hardware coming out your nose and tattoo writing up your neck in a language I don't understand, your hair not knowing what a comb is and you don't understand why you don't get the job?"
"I sympathize with the tea party," Waller said. "They held their rallies; they were clean and neat."
Dade City police Chief Ray Velboom said his officers will be on hand to ensure that Saturday's event goes smoothly.
"We're hearing that there will be around 20 people or so, which is hard to confirm with a leaderless resistance," Velboom said. "But we're not picking up on anything negative. We'll have the antique car show in town at the same time and we'll be talking to people. Our job is to be prepared and be ready for anything."
Al Heiler is a semiretired engineer and businessman whose home with wife Diane sits on a rolling hill across from the Lake Jovita clubhouse. As a self-described fiscal conservative and 1 percenter, he proclaims sympathy toward Occupy Everywhere.
"I'd be willing to pay higher taxes," said Heiler, "and other people like me could do the same. How about we take the new Medicare Part B means-testing a bit farther by giving up some of the Social Security? How can we live like this when some old lady, through no lack of effort, is eating dog food in this country?
"And then pass a tax on stock speculation," Heiler said. "I don't begrudge anyone's income, but when it's just a money grab, without making any contribution to the world, there should be a price to pay."
So when protesters gather at the historic courthouse Saturday, will he camp out with them?
"The last time I did that was 50 years ago when I was in the Army," he said.
"Now I have a really nice place to sleep."