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Hundreds Arrested as Protesters March on Capitol Hill


Hundreds of protesters rally against big money in politics during a march in Washington, D.C., April 18, 2016. (E. Sarai/VOA)

Hundreds of protesters rally against big money in politics during a march in Washington, D.C., April 18, 2016. (E. Sarai/VOA)

Approximately 300 protesters were arrested Monday after marching on the U.S. Capitol with a list of demands and calling themselves Democracy Awakening, according to U.S. Capitol Police.

Resembling the Occupy Wall Street movement, the group is protesting "big" and "dark" money in politics. Its stated goal is "Coming together to awaken a democracy that is accessible to all and is not beholden to big money interests."

The group says this is a necessary act of civil disobedience that will mark this generation.

A platform set up outside Union Station welcomed headliners such as NAACP President Cornell Brooks and Chris Shelton, the president of the Communications Workers of America Union. Spanish and sign language interpreters also were on the platform, interpreting the speeches as well as a pledge of non-violence by participants before the march.

Protesters marched on the U.S. Capitol in a rally against big money in politics in Washington, D.C., April 18, 2016. (E. Sarai/VOA)

Protesters marched on the U.S. Capitol in a rally against big money in politics in Washington, D.C., April 18, 2016. (E. Sarai/VOA)

Marchers to the Capitol held signs and shouted slogans against big money in politics. Protesters shook their fists at the windows of U.S. Senate buildings, chanting, "Do your job."

Hundreds of marchers refused to heed warnings to vacate the Capitol steps or risk being arrested. Many of the protesters had planned to be arrested.

‘Get money out of politics’

One of the more than 200 organizations that have endorsed the movement and were present Monday was the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. AFL-CIO communications director Eric Hauser said organized laborers and workers have always been involved in any political issues that he calls "broadly democracy grounded."

"That can mean immigration, the workers' rights act, economic justice that want to be not just a part of, but a driving part of, the coalescing of those themes because they really do fall under one banner," he said.

Protesters calling themselves Democracy Awakening said their march against big money was a necessary act of civil disobedience in Washington, D.C., April 18, 2016. (E. Sarai/VOA)

Protesters calling themselves Democracy Awakening said their march against big money was a necessary act of civil disobedience in Washington, D.C., April 18, 2016. (E. Sarai/VOA)

Not all protesters were representing an organization. Mother and son team Deborah and Joshua McCunn flew eight hours to march with the protesters.

"Me and my mom flew here from Washington state and we're here to protest for equal voting rights for everyone and to take corporate money out of the political system," said Joshua, 33, wearing an American flag as a cape. "We are not affiliated with any of the groups, we're just citizens."

"We feel strongly it's time to get money out of politics and everybody deserves to vote," his mother said.

The group is a continuation of Democracy Spring, a sit-in at the Capitol that began last week. Capitol Police report that 1,240 arrests have been made since the beginning of these demonstrations April 11.

The role of money in politics has been increasingly called into question this election year, especially as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders denounces Wall Street. Even actor George Clooney spoke out this week, calling the amount of money he has raised for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton "obscene."

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