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9 Apr, 2016 03:50

Democracy Spring: Mass civil disobedience, teach-ins, and rallies heading to DC

Thousands of people concerned about big money in politics, congressional dysfunction, and voter disenfranchisement are expected to converge on Washington, DC for a week-long program of civil disobedience, teach-ins, rallies, and marches.

The Public Citizen and 99Rise.org organizations are unifying a coalition of groups, including Greenpeace, the AFL-CIO, NAACP, National Nurses Union, and civil rights movements, that will stream into the nation’s capital starting on Monday.

People associated with 99Rise.org kicked of the “Democracy Spring” campaign on April 2 by marching the 140 miles from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, “where the dream of American democracy took flight,” to Washington, DC, where they will begin a week-long sit-in at the Capitol building.

“We hope we will be able to rally to celebrate that Congress has come to its senses and passed at least one of the perfectly-viable reform bills now pending before it,” 99Rise organizers wrote on the Democracy Spring website.

“But if they refuse to do anything, we will have no choice but to reclaim the People’s House in mass, dignified but determined, nonviolent sit-ins to force their hand.”

People will rally at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station and then march to the Capitol, hoping to arrive at 12 noon on Monday.

Over 3,000 people have pledged to risk arrests during the week, including activists Mark Ruffalo, Gaby Hoffman, Lawrence Lessig, Cenk Uygur, Zephyr Teachout, Umi Selah, Frances Moore Lappe, Ben Cohen, Medea Benjamin, and The Yes Men.

During the sit-in, organizers said they will coordinate call-in days, online petitions, Twitter storms, and local solidarity actions. The first day be for everyone, followed by themed days for the rest of the week oriented towards senior citizens, youth, and students, as well as racial justice and labor solidarity movements. The event will culminate with Climate Justice Day on April 16.

“There are four different bills that are on the table now that would change the way elections are funded and overturn Citizens United, and that would protect the right to vote,” Kai Newkirk, a spokesman for 99Rise, told RT’s Thom Hartmann, while describing the reforms they would like to see Congress act upon.

“The other step they can take is to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court who would uphold the principle of political equity.”

Democracy Spring then becomes Democracy Awakening from April 16 to 18, which will entail a weekend-long series of teach-ins, a rally, a march, and acts of civil disobedience organized by Public Citizen, with more than 260 organizations involved.

Workshops will involve discussions about attacks on unions, voting rights, campaign finance laws, and criminal justice reform. A march and rally at the US Capitol building is scheduled for April 17, and a day of direct action is planned for April 18.

“What’s exciting about this is who is joining in. We have got everybody from Greenpeace to ALF-CIO and also crucially the NAACP, civil rights movement and we are really wedding together money and politics efforts and voting rights efforts which I think is not the end of something but the beginning a great new stage in the democracy fight,” Rob Weissman of Public Citizen told RT’s Thom Hartmann in describing his hopes for Democracy Awakening.

“A lot of the discussions about these have been in parallel universes but they are really core democratic issues. The same things are at stake. Who gets to decide, who gets to vote and does everyone get to have a voice or are we drowned out by the oligarchs,” added Weissman.