300+ Arrests as Pro-Democracy Forces Converge for Final Day of Spring Revolt
Sunday saw thousands rally in Washington, D.C., while hundreds risked arrest during mass sit-in on Monday
Update: 3:50pm EDT...
More than 300 people were arrested Monday as part of Democracy Awakening, marking the final day of a record-setting week of civil disobedience at the U.S. Capitol.
Among those taken into custody were approximately 60 organization and movement leaders, including NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks, Public Citizen president Robert Weissman, Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard, radio commentator Jim Hightower, and Ben & Jerry's co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.
"I did not make the decision to get arrested lightly," said Weissman following his release. "I chose to engage in civil disobedience because I care so much for our country – and because I am so desperately concerned about our broken democracy. I am proud to join hundreds of fellow Americans in a mass civil disobedience action. We are standing up for democracy, by sitting down. The week-long democracy protests in Washington mark a new phase of the democracy movement, one in which we take to the streets in increasing numbers to deliver on the promise that our government is constituted by and belongs to We the People."
Capitol Police say 1,240 people have been arrested in the last seven days.
The battle against big money in politics continued over the weekend and into Monday, as Democracy Spring gave way to Democracy Awakening, a landmark mobilization calling for restoration of voting rights, campaign finance reform, and environmental justice.
In what the Washington Post described as "one of the biggest public protests against big money," thousands converged in front of the U.S. Capitol building on Sunday, for a rally featuring anti-fracking activist Sandra Steingraber; commentator Jim Hightower; Moral Monday movement co-founder Rev. William Barber II; and NAACP president Cornell William Brooks.
— Energy Action (@energyaction) April 17, 2016
— BritneyK (@_Brilaiixoxi_) April 17, 2016
On Monday, hundreds reconvened to march and risk arrest during Democracy Awakening's "Congress of Conscience Day of Action."
— Sierra Club (@sierraclub) April 18, 2016
— Collin Rees (@collinrees) April 18, 2016
— Democracy Awakening (@DemAwakening) April 18, 2016
According to organizers, Monday's actions are aimed at getting Congress to pursue:
- Fair consideration of the nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, including timely hearings and a vote by the full Senate.
- The Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 2867, S. 1659), legislation that would restore the protections against voting discrimination that were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in its Shelby County v. Holder decision, and make additional, critical updates to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
- The Voter Empowerment Act (H.R. 12), legislation to modernize voter registration, prevent deceptive practices that keep people from the ballot box and ensure equal access to voting for all.
- The Democracy For All Amendment (H.J.Res. 22, S.J.Res. 5), a constitutional amendment that would overturn U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and allow elected representatives to set commonsense limits on money in elections.
- The Government By the People Act/Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 20 and S. 1538), a small donor empowerment measure that would encourage and amplify small contributions from everyday Americans.
"A functional democracy is a precondition for a healthy environment, economy and society," said Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard in advance of the protests. "The daily protests may slow after the Democracy Spring and the Democracy Awakening, but the movement will continue to grow. The people have made it too big and too strong to ignore."
Follow the final day of arrests and pro-democracy activities on Twitter under the hashtag #DemocracyAwakens: