5,000 protesters took to the streets of Capitol Hill Saturday following a week of sit-ins and protests at the U.S. Capitol Building. Democracy Awakening protesters joined with Democracy Spring protesters. The mass act of civil disobedience continues on as mass media outlets give it only a passing glance. Thankfully we live in a society where there are cell phones, the internet, and independent news sources or we’d be oblivious to the revolutionary acts of thousands of American people.
It’s unfathomable that such a big news story could get so little coverage. We live in the Kim Kardashian age, an age where a celebrity DUI is headline news and people become media darlings for embarrassing themselves on reality TV. So why is such a movement ignored? Why when real news is happening, are the mainstream news networks not covering it. Maybe the goal is to cover it up instead. Keep us blinded by inundating us with useless news as usual. There seems to always be a distraction from what we need to focus on .
The Democracy Spring campaign started with a nearly 150-mile march from Pennsylvania to Was, D.C. for many of its participants. Once in D.C., there was a week of protests, speeches, sit-ins, teach-ins, and training sessions as protesters demanded that congress passes four bills as well as get big business out of politics. Demonstrators chanted slogans such as “One person, one vote.”
I was excited to get a chance to exclusively interview 25-year-old Anthony, a young man from Pennsylvania who was arrested after he traveled down to Washington, D.C. to participate. I was eager to ask Anthony about his experience and what led him to D.C. for the protests.
Melony: Where are you from and how did you get to Washington, D.C.?
Anthony: I am from New Jersey, Morris County to be specific. I made the trip to Washington in my car on Sunday night around 7:00 pm, 240 miles 3:40 minutes GPS estimation. The ride down went quickly because I was so hyped. When I arrived I went right to the mass housing, and Margaret (one of the housing coordinators) had her number posted on the door and let me in. Slept almost 4 hours on a yoga mat and my jacket as a blanket on a Church floor, definitely a first for me.
Melony: What made you want to participate in the Democracy Spring campaign? Why is this important to you?
Anthony: I saw an opportunity with days off of work, and a message I agree with. I am very principled and wanted to walk the walk for causes I believe in. It only made sense for me to do this because my whole life I always knew there was a problem with the way our government was structured and the corruption, but I could never pinpoint why. I was a huge Ron Paul 2012 supporter, as I still see the Federal Reserve as America’s biggest problem after legalized bribery. My sister is in college, I would like to go back and get a degree in Journalism. The cost of an education does not make it worth it anymore. I see first hand all around me, even while living in the 10th richest county for household income (Morris County) the effects it is having on union members, and local businesses. This can’t continue, and I want to see things done peacefully.
Melony: How would you describe your experience at the Capitol Building participating in this mass act of civil disobedience?
Anthony: The experience was probably the most significant thing in my life up until this point. Its a powerful feeling, knowing that you aren’t scared of the government, but careful of it. It is so inspiring to see hundreds of people from all walks of life and generations willing to tarnish their record as myself for a cause they believe in. It is something our kids can be proud of one day. People came from all over the country. I got to know and network with people from Texas, Chicago, and I even met one of Bernie Sanders delegates from the Washington Caucus while being detained. My new homie Austin from Texas and I may have some collaborating media ventures going in the future. The police were very respectful with us, I think we can start a movement to show other police departments how to handle peaceful protesters. Nobody was thrown on the ground and sprayed, or fired at by rubber bullets. We even offered the police to sit with us because this affects their lives and their children. On a comical note, I met four officers from my state, and my arresting officer was from my county.
Melony: What do you think of the fact that the major news networks aren’t covering this epic movement?
Anthony: There is really just one universal reason why major news networks do not broadcast Democracy Spring or brush it off as a bunch of jobless kids as the Occupy movement, money. Money controls every aspect of our disgusting society’s structure. They are not going to risk their bottom line to undo 50+ years of propaganda that has been put forth to destroy “The New Deal”. Plus what “journalist” is going to want to pay more in taxes, you know people like Andrea Mitchell, and Chris Hayes are sitting very pretty financially. The American people will win, people like you promoting this message are just as much of an American hero as the protesters, activist group organizers, un-bought primary challengers this election, and new people that are signing up to join the information war.
Following the culmination of the Democracy Spring sit-in, many of its participants joined up with members of the Democracy Awakening campaign for 3 more days of protests, rallies, and meetings with members of congress that will last through April 18th. Events included:
Saturday will feature teach-ins, workshops and non-violent direct action training by powerful leaders from around the country.
Join thousands of people in a rally and march at the U.S. Capitol
Join activists on Capitol Hill for a day of non-violent direct action and advocacy.
Democracy Awakening is aimed at passing the following bills and moving forward on the Supreme Court nomination. Specifically,
- A 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 was 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.
Among those prominent leaders risking arrests on Monday are:
Reverend Dr. William Barber II, Pastor & Moral Monday Architect
Andy Bichlbaum, The Yes Men
May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org
Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network
Jeff Furman, Chairman of the Board, Ben and Jerry’s Homemade, Inc.
Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO
Jerry Greenfield, Co-founder, Ben and Jerry’s
Jay Harris, Editor & Publisher, The Hightower Lowdown
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Jim Hightower, Radio Commentator & Activist
And many more.
Monday morning’s Advocacy Day will kick off with a line up of “faith leaders” Presenters include: Marge Baker (People for the American Way); Doug Grace (Ecumenical Advocacy Days); Pastor Barry Hargrove (Prince of Peace Baptist Church, Baltimore); Rabbi Barbara Weinstein (Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism)
Throughout the Democracy Spring campaign over 900 people were arrested in the nations capitol this week. Those arrested were charged with obstructing, crowding and incommoding, which means to be an inconvenience.
The mainstream media can ignore the story but what can’t be ignored is the will of the American people. People are risking their lives, their jobs, their clean criminal record all in the name of justice. Each, like Anthony, will have their own personal story to share. Whether it’s covered by mainstream media or independent journalist the story is out here. The videos and photos are flooding the internet. #DemocracySpring was trending all week on Twitter and Facebook while local media was silent.