Advertisement
News by VICE

A Group of Democracy Spring Activists Occupied the US Capitol

Activists protesting money in politics zip-tied themselves to scaffolding in the Capitol rotunda on Friday before being arrested by Capitol Police.

by Sarah Mimms
Apr 15 2016, 4:30pm

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

As they reach the end of their week in Washington, 11 Democracy Spring activists on Friday morning zip-tied themselves to the scaffolding inside the rotunda of the US Capitol, demanding "a Democracy where every vote is counted and every voice is heard".

The demonstrators were in Washington on Friday as part of a week-long protest against big money in politics dubbed Democracy Spring. Some of them marched down to DC from Philadelphia last week, joining thousands of others who found more convenient ways to Washington. Hundreds were arrested on Monday for refusing to leave the steps of the US Capitol.

On Friday, 15 activists joined a Capitol tour. When they entered the rotunda, eleven of them began passing around zip ties and locking their hands together, as the four others filmed it. (Watch footage from the scene here.) It soon became clear to their tour guide that they were zip-tying themselves to the scaffolding in the rotunda, which has been up for months in order for workers repair the Capitol Dome.

Related: Hundreds Arrested at US Capitol During 'Democracy Spring' Campaign Finance Protests

"Before you guys get arrested, could I please have the headsets back?" he asked.

They complied. Then, the protesters began shouting in unison, using the human microphone technique popularized by Occupy Wall Street.

"We the people demand a Democracy free from the corruptive influence of big money and voter suppression," they chanted.

The protesters also sang a song that Democracy Spring activist Kaeley Pruitt-Hamm wrote and posted on Youtube earlier this month so that fellow activists could learn it for the protests this week.

Soon, Capitol Police walked over to inform them that they would be arrested. The eleven activists who had zip-tied themselves were taken out of the rotunda to be processed by the police. The four who filmed the event were not detained, Tyler Creighton of ReThink Media, which is serving as a communications shop for the protests, said Friday.

Capitol Police have closed the rotunda.

Many more Democracy Spring protesters are expected at the US Capitol today, though the protests planned are expected to be outdoors. Actress Rosario Dawson, who has been campaigning for Bernie Sanders, is scheduled to address the crowds.

Overall, almost 800 protesters have been arrested at Democracy Spring, organizers said Friday. Capitol Police has not responded to requests for comment about the arrests.

"American democracy is in crisis," Kai Newkirk, Democracy Spring's Campaign Director, said in a statement on Friday. "When hundreds of people are being arrested day after day at the Capitol, we need our elected officials and those running for office to stand up and speak out to end legalized political corruption and voter suppression. This latest Democracy Spring action is the natural reaction to a do-nothing Congress refusing to listen to the overwhelming majority of the people."

Follow Sarah Mimms on Twitter: @SarahMMimms