At Least Two Newsmen Were Arrested
Four hundred protesters, including newsmen, were arrested Monday on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in an act of mass civil disobedience. Among them was Cenk Uygur, co-host on The Young Turks online news program. On Tuesday, police arrested many more, including elderly citizens and RT reporter Lee Camp.
In a riff on the “too big to fail” line from the big banks scandal, some of the elderly chanted:
“Democracy is not for sale, [we’re] not too old to go to jail.”
Monday was the first day of an action called Democracy Spring — an attempt by demonstrators to bring an end to the the many-pronged assault on fair elections in America. The focus is especially on the influence of big money on politics and the suppression of voting rights.
The movement is demanding that Congress take action to nullify the outrageous Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court that allowed billionaires to take over the political process. Also on the agenda are the abuses of voting rights by states that aim to limit participation in elections.
Over 3,000 people have committed to risking arrest as the sit-in protests continue daily, throughout the week. On the first day, police were caught unawares by the numbers — even though the coming action was hardly invisible. Activists began a 10-day, 140-mile march from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. on April 1st. Nevertheless, police initially brought only one bus to cart protesters off to jail.
Activist Kai Newkirk, co-founder of Democracy Spring, explained the action’s mission to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
“We’re calling on [Congress] to take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in politics and ensure free and fair elections that give us all an equal voice. And there are four bills, in particular, that we’ve identified—two that deal with big money in politics and two that will protect and expand the right to vote and voter access.”
Newkirk hopes the event rivals the Occupy Wall Street movement in its ability to focus the nation’s outrage on what is wrong with democracy in America. As noted by Zachary Roth of MSNBC, the 2016 election will be the first in 50 years to be held without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. Every eye is needed to be limit the corruption of the vote.
Other Celebrities Are Joining The Protesters
In addition to the newsmen, some well-known activists are lending their visibility to the Democracy Spring movement, including actor Mark Ruffalo and the the NAACP president, Cornell Brooks —both of whom have pledged to join the protesters. The aforementioned Cenk Uyghur gave voice to the prevailing sentiment:
“People are fed up with the system, they are fed up with the corruption, and we want free and fair elections.”
The sit-ins, coupled with teach-ins, will continue throughout the week. The highlight will no doubt come on Sunday, April 17th, when Democracy Awakening — a coalition of 150 organizations — will join Democracy Spring, which is a coalition of 90 groups.
Watch Monday’s action here:
Feature photo, screenshots from YouTube video by theRealNews.com.