Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations “as American as apple pie,” though he expressed concern about the violence that has emerged in parts of the movement.
Calling the protests a sign of frustration in a time where work opportunities are more limited, Powell recalled his own upbringing when his parents — both immigrants — always held jobs. Even if they were low-paying, he said, it was enough.
“They always had work,” Powell told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview aired Thursday. “People are concerned now that there is not that work source of income.”
With Occupy Wall Street, he said, people are unhappy and they’re “directing their unhappiness toward Wall Street and toward those they think are doing too well in our society.”
“I don’t begrudge anybody who has earned a good salary as part of our capitalist system,” he said. “[But] demonstrations like this are as American as apple pie. We’ve been marching up and down and demonstrating throughout our history.”
He continued, “I get a little concerned when demonstrations turn into violence or when some of the demonstrators demonstrate absolute nihilism and they’re really not interested in anything but destruction and tearing down the system.”
Powell said the biggest concern is the income gap, which needs to be addressed politically.
“Those who are not doing as well, are not seeing their lives improving…there’s angriness there and this is something I think our Wall Street friends need to think about and this is something our political friends need to think about,” he said. “It isn’t enough just to scream at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, we need our political system to start reflecting this anger back.”
Watch the interview below, via CNN: