Mass demonstrations by a group called “Democracy Spring” began last Monday, holding sit ins and other demonstrations to protest laws it considers discriminatory, such as Voter ID laws. Police have arrested hundreds of people in Washington, D,.C. protesting the influence of money in politics during the last week.  Another group, Democracy Awakening, has also held protests.

Those arrested were charged with violating a D.C. statute prohibiting “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” which are misdemeanors, said police spokeswoman Eva Malecki.  All of those arrested were Democracy Spring-related participants. Most were processed and then released on the scene.

The Democracy Spring effort started in Philadelphia, where thousands began a 140-mile walk to the U.S. Capitol to “demand Congress take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in our politics and ensure free and fair elections in which every American has an equal voice.”

Actress Rosario Dawson said in a video posted on YouTube Friday that the organizers hope to surpass all previous Capitol protest records for number arrested, topping 1,000 by the time the week-long demonstration wraps up.  “This week, we’re taking back our democracy,” Dawson said. Money in politics has “distorted our politics and our issues.” Police arrested the actress Friday on Capitol Hill for crowding and obstruction. She was briefly detained and will be required to pay a $50 fine like the others arrested.

Many protesters held up signs protesting the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the  Citizens United case. The case opened the door for the rise of newer super PACs — political action committees that can raise unlimited amounts from virtually any source  — and contributed to corporate influence in campaigns, critics say.

Democracy Spring’s protests in Washington could obscure the fact that people across the country are starting to fight the effects of corporate interests in local elections, Potter said. His cites changes made in Tallahassee, Fla., Seattle and in South Carolina, where lobbyists are now banned from making campaign donations.

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.  A statement from their website reads “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.”

On its website and in press releases, “Democracy Spring” said “hundreds” have been arrested so far, and reports that 3,500 people from 33 different states have pledged to join the protests this week.  They are fighting for a series of legislative actions, including the passage of four bills aimed at reducing “the influence of money in politics” while seeking to “expand and protect voting rights.”

 

 

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