More than 3,600 protesters, demanding that money be taken out of politics, arrived at the U.S. Capitol on Monday for a mass sit-in that led to more than 400 arrests.
The Democracy Spring protesters marched from Philadelphia to the Capitol, a 140-mile trek, over nine days. The group plans to rally at the Capitol every day this week with a different theme for each protest.
On Monday, protesters rallied on the East Front of the Capitol facing the Supreme Court, behind a line of Capitol Police officers.
Yelling back and forth, the group chanted, “Represent who? Represent us?” and “Democracy” “Spring.” Groups of about six to 10 protesters at a time were arrested periodically by Capitol Police, who put plastic zip lines around their wrists.
Signs from protesters read, “Things go better without Koch” and “Claim Your Democracy.” Several T-shirts supporting Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders were spotted in the crowd.
More than 400 people were arrested, police said.
The group supports a series of bills that aim to reduce the influence of money in politics. They include: the Government by the People Act, the Fair Elections Now Act, the Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Voter Empowerment Act to promote access to voting for individuals with disabilities.
While in Baltimore on Thursday, Democratic Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger welcomed the protesters and encouraged them to continue to urge Congress to take up the issue. But he expressed concern about the sit-in component and the possibility that the story would become about a mass arrest rather than the issue, said Jaime Lennon, Ruppersberger’s spokeswoman.
Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law school professor and political activist, is expected to join the group in D.C. later this week. Two actors joined the walk, “Law & Order” star Sam Waterston, who was recently in the capital to protest
industrial offshore drilling
in the Atlantic, and Gaby Hoffman from HBO’s “Girls.” Each day has a different theme: Tuesday, “Elders Standing for Democracy Spring”; Wednesday, “Racial Justice Day”; Thursday, “Labor Solidarity Day”; Friday, “Youth and Student Day” and Saturday, “Climate Justice Day.”