As It Happened: More Than 300 Arrested in DC for Democracy Awakening

by Shana McMahon

April 18, 2016

In the final day of a record-setting week of civil disobedience at the Capitol, more than 300 people were arrested today — including approximately 60 organization and movement leaders — as they demanded democracy reforms.

Democracy Awakening

Some of the thousands of Democracy Awakening protesters stand on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. April 18, 2016. More than 300 activists were arrested as part of the non-violent direct action to call attention to attacks voter rights and big money in politics. Photo by Greenpeace.

Editor’s note: This story was last updated at 1:01pm EST on April 19, 2016.

The time has come to remind our leaders what democracy is supposed to be: of, by, and for the people.

On April 18, 2016, hundreds of activists stepped up as part of the Democracy Awakening movement to demand a system in which everyone can participate and every voice is heard. From workers’ rights to racial justice to the environment and more, we’re uniting across movements to take on the issue that affects us all — our democracy. All in all, more than 5,000 people marched to the Capitol to voice their demands on Monday, with 306 arrested after peacefully protesting outside the zone established by the Capitol Police.

Between Democracy Awakening and and Democracy Spring — a set of coordinated peaceful demonstrations that took place throughout the previous week — organizers cite more than 1,400 total arrests.

For months, the pro-democracy movement has been working to get big money out of politics and urging Congress restore voting rights. We know that to make progress on the issues that matter most — including environmental protection — we need a government that listens to people like you and me, not lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry.

This mobilization made that message impossible to ignore, taking our demands of Congress straight to the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

In case you missed it, relive the action as it unfolded below, and join the conversation on social media using #DemocracyAwakens:

Why We’re Taking Action for Democracy

Democracy is one of the best tools we have to protect the environment, but our system has been polluted by big money. We deserve a democracy that represents all of us, not just a wealthy few. A democracy that allows us to take swift action on today’s most urgent issues, like stopping runaway climate change and preventing environmental health disasters like the Flint water crisis.

Right now — as we prepare to elect our next president and members of Congress — we have a chance to make it happen. On April 18, we gave Congress the wake up call it needs to get moving on a democracy that serves people and the environment, not corporate interests — but this movement is far from over.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to risk arrest for Congress to act on money in politics, voting rights, and other critical issues that block people like you and me from political participation. But the challenges we face are too urgent for us to wait until November to simply cast our votes. If we’re going to make progress, we need to exercise our power right now.

Are you with us?

Exercise your power by sending a message to Congress. Make sure they hear us loud and clear — we want a democracy that puts people first!

Shana McMahon

By Shana McMahon

Shana McMahon is an online strategist for Greenpeace USA.

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