US Activists Protest against Big Money in Politics on Capitol Hill
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Hundreds of protesters from across the US gathered on the Capitol Hill Friday, chanting "money out, people in," among other slogans, as part of a week-long protest in Washington, D.C., the US national capital, against big money in politics.
Dozens of protesters were taken into police custody for refusing to leave the steps of the Capitol building, bringing the total number of arrests made this week to about 800.
"The overall majority of Americans believe that the way the campaigns are financed in the country disenfranchises ordinary people," said Kenneth Martel, an organizer of the protest dubbed "Democracy Spring."
Protesters argue that the interests of big campaign donors and lobbyists are favored over the needs of the public, calling the current "pay-to-play" system in the US "out of control."
On the west lawn of the Capitol building, protesters from the US states of California and Colorado to Vermont chanted slogans such as "one person, one vote," and "justice," while sporting banners and placards that said "If money is speech, then speech ain't free" and "student need over corporate greed," Xinhua reported.
They also took turns to address the crowd, targeting big corporation and interests groups as well as mainstream US media that have paid little attention to their dissatisfaction and demands.
Later, more than 10 protesters entered the Capitol building as part of a tour group and tied themselves to the scaffolding in the rotunda before being taken into custody.
Friday's demonstration came as the Democracy Spring movement is gaining strength after a march from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and four-day peaceful protest in the national capital city.
"There is a lot of corruption in our government. There are a lot of connections between corporation and politicians," said David Serrano, who came from Denver, Colorado. "I came here today to lend my voice to this very important issue."
"The government doesn't represent all of the people. It only represents rich people who could afford to buy lobbying influence," said 46-year-old Rachel Perkins, who came to join the protest by taking a four-day train journey from California.
"The government should pass legislation so that we get big money out of politics and every person has a vote and the vote counts," she said.
Many of the protesters said the issue, though long-standing, began to gain more public awareness as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders denounced the "corrupt campaign finance system" in the country.
During the current campaign cycle, Sanders said, billions of dollars from the wealthiest people in this country are already flooding the political process.
"The situation has become so absurd that super PACs, which theoretically operate independently of the actual candidates, have more money and more influence over campaigns than the candidates themselves," he said.