On the 13th of April, Black Lives Matter and other Ward 8 organizers led Democracy Spring’s 3rd march on the US Capitol. The lead banner was from the Save Barry Farms organizers advising people to refuse to move, blocking displacement. When the march arrived at the Capitol, the third sit-in in as many days followed. As police arrested the folks in the sit-in, they also put police lines around the support people after moving them back behind the first police line. At one point they were told they too were subject to arrest,unknown if any arrests other than voluntary ones resulted from this. The final arrest total for the three days so far has now climbed to in excess of 700.
Money in politics has been a major factor in the gentrification that has driven rents to insane levels in DC, and in the entry into DC of low-wage business such as Wal-Mart. Mayor Bowser in particular earned a reputation for being in bed with Wal-Mart lobbyists. Former Mayor Fenty was protrayed as literally being in bed with Wal-Mart during a 2012 march on Wal-Mart’s lobbying headquarters, with a bed mounted on a truck and a Fenty and Wal-Mart executive character on it.All the results activists have gotten from the Mayor’s office on slowing down mass evictions and on raising the minimum wage have come from intensive street protest and holding Mayor Bowser’s feet to the fire. In this way people power was used in direct opposition to the dollar power of lobbyists. On a similar note, opponents of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline were able to defeat oil company lobbyists with intensive civil disobedience backed by a threat that if Obama approved the pipeline “liberal Green” voters would stay home in droves and throw the next election. Thus worked through three election cycles and Obama finally threw in the towel on the Keystone XL. Protest WORKS, and lobbyists can be defeated.Now the lobbyists and those they bribe are being directly targetted
Democracy Spring protesters so far have confined the sit-ins to just one section of the Capitol, the East Steps. Perhaps that’s why on April 13 the Capitol Police let arrested sit-in participants walk to a processing area before being cuffed? Probably the police realize they are numerically outmatched, so they can do this the easy way or the hard way. “Hard way” could mean aggravated protesters going limp to slow down arrests or even spreading out to cover all entrances to the Capitol. Certainly protesters have the numbers, so police may simply not want to infuriate them.
The campaign itself seems to be focusing on political pressure rather than a hard-core siege, but who knows what will happen if Congress brushes off the demand for removing money and corporate influence from politics? At one point on April 13th a bystander was overheard to describe the combination of corporations and government as “fascism.” Well he was right, and it could even be considered capitol-F Fascism because Mussolini himself said “Fascism should really be called corporatism.” By this he meant that combination of corporations with each other and with the government was at the root of fascist organization of society.
One thing though is certain: With arrest totals exceeding those of Pershing Park and likely to exceed those of the 2011 Tar Sands Action sit-ins, the IMF and World Bank must be danmed glad all the action is on the other end of town. They are meeting April 15-17 in the usual locations and no doubt sleeping in the usual hotels. If protesters decided to pay them a visit, the numbers could be staggering, given that the IMF and World Bank also stand for corporate power and for money in politics. Certainly the IMF does not practice what it preaches on the subject of corruption, any more than US prosecutors target members of Congress for taking bribes from lobbyists. The ABSCAM sting is but a distant fading memory so far as most campaign cash hungry Senators and Representatives are concerned.