Journalists are sitting this one out while hundreds are arrested
Democracy Spring protests on the steps of the Capitol building
Google Democracy Spring. Go ahead. We’ll just wait.
If you’ve managed to find more than two articles from major news organization then – well, then you’re using a different internet than we are. Despite the fact that more than 400 activists have been arrested in Washington D.C. this week while peacefully assembling to protest the influence of money in politics, pretty much no one is talking about Democracy Spring.
So if you’re wondering what’s going on, here’s why hundreds are being hauled off by police on the steps of the Capitol building. First, the who: Democracy Spring is a coalition of more than 100 progressive organizations, like Veterans for Peace and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and has received pledge endorsement from private citizens as well as celebrities, including Mark Ruffalo and Gaby Hoffman.
Second, the why: Democracy Spring is hoping to shake political trees in the heart of primary season, and says on its website that, “If the status quo goes unchallenged, the 2016 election— already set to be the most billionaire-dominated, secret money-drenched, voter suppression-marred contest in modern American history —will likely yield a President and a Congress more bound to the masters of big money than ever before.”
Organizers of the movement are hoping thousands turn out over the course of the demonstration to pressure policy makers to take action against Big Money’s influence over politics and to dismantle laws that disenfranchise voters who are poor or people of color. In one of the few stories actually written about the event, NPR gives a succinct explanation of Democracy Spring’s demands, “The coalition wants a ‘Congress of Conscience’ to pass legislation limiting undisclosed and big-donor money, giving more clout to small donors; to restore powers in the Voting Rights Act; and to put an end to gerrymandered districts that insulate incumbent lawmakers from election challenges.”
Third, the how: The sit-down protest actually started as a march, with several hundred people walking over the course of nine days from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. That’s almost 150 miles of ground to cover. The Capitol occupation itself is set to run for seven days and will feature organized events like teach-ins, rallies and speeches until it ends next Monday. Another large coalition, Democracy Awakening, is set to join Spring protestors over the weekend.
Besides being plenty mad, Democracy Spring attendees aren’t just sitting down (and getting arrested). They’re bringing specific legislative demands to the steps of Congress in the form of four bills: the Government by the People Act and Fair Elections Now Act, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, the Voter Empowerment Act of 2015, and the Democracy for All Amendment.
Kai Newkirk, a Democracy Spring organizer and member of 99Rise, told the crowd, “We send a message — to everyone in our country who needs a government that represents us all — that this House is your House too, and now is the time to stand up and to take it back.”
Here are some tweets from the ground, because at least we have that news service:
Democracy Spring, of course, is only the most recent in the long tradition of political marches. Here are ten that helped change the world.