It was a beautiful day to be arrested. On Monday morning thousands marched from Washington’s Union Station to the Capitol, where a group of policemen waited in the shade. The Fugees’s song “Ready or Not” played over a loudspeaker. A man in a suit printed in hundred-dollar bills gleefully scattered fake money onto the ground, while another man cleaned it up with a pink broom painted with, “sweep big money out of politics.” “What do we want? Democracy!” the protesters shouted as they approached the Capitol. “If we don’t get it? Shut it down!”
The march and arrests were the culmination of Democracy Awakening, a weekend of workshops, rallies, speeches, and demonstrations of civil disobedience that brought thousands of activists from across the country together in DC. They are fighting to protect voting rights, to end the corrosive influence of big money on the political system and to force Republicans to confirm Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
Leading Monday’s demonstration, their arms linked together, were civil rights, labor and environmental leaders, including Reverend William Barber II of North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement, NAACP president Cornell Brooks, Communication Workers of America President Chris Shelton, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard, and Sierra Club president Aaron Mair.
— NAACP (@NAACP) April 18, 2016
“This is not a moment. It’s a movement,” said Cornell Brooks on the steps of the Capitol. Leaders of major progressive organizations were joined by teenagers who’d skipped school to risk arrest, ice cream mogul Jerry Greenfield, faith leaders, and striking Verizon employees. Past acts of civil disobedience echoed through the crowd—“We are the ninety-nine percent!” the protesters thundered as the police moved in, evoking Occupy Wall Street; as the arrests began they sang “We Shall Overcome” and “Can’t Turn Me’ Round,” freedom songs from the civil rights era.
— Democracy Awakening (@DemAwakening) April 18, 2016