Conservative and independent protesters channeling themes from the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders dumped faux contributions into Boston Harbor on Friday, one of some 30 demonstrations planned across the country against big money in politics.
In Washington, about a dozen members of a more liberal group called Democracy Spring cuffed themselves inside the Capitol rotunda in a protest of the influence of special interests in U.S. politics and to denounce laws making it more difficult to vote.
The Democracy Spring demonstration followed the arrest of hundreds at events all week including a sit-in protest on the steps of the Capitol, the seat of the U.S. Congress.
Both the weeklong protests in Washington and Friday’s nationwide demonstrations led by the activist group Represent.Us have tapped into some of the voter frustration seen on the presidential campaign trail.
“From super PACs (political action committees) to lucrative job offers and campaign contributions, there are tons of perfectly legal ways to bribe a politician,” said Charlotte Hill, communications director for Represent.Us.
The group, which has promoted anti-corruption resolutions in American cities, says it neither endorses nor opposes any presidential candidate. Represent.Us said it would stage events in 33 cities.
Trump, a billionaire Republican, and Sanders, who describes himself as a democratic socialist running for the Democratic nomination, have both denounced the influence of large campaign contributions in their surprising runs for the White House.
“Our message is it doesn’t matter if you’re conservative or progressive. Two hundred and forty-three years after the original Boston Tea Party, Americans of all political stripes are still facing taxation without political representation,” said Dan Krassner, political director of Represent.Us.
About 40 activists attended the symbolic re-staging of the Boston Tea Party near the spot where American colonists dumped tea into the harbor to protest taxes levied by the British. Represent.Us activists tossed a stack of wooden crates into the water, representing campaign contributions.
“We’ve got to get the money out of the system. Our country’s going to be run by global corporate wealth,” said Richard Painter, an activist with Take Back Our Republic, a group promoting campaign finance reform.
In Washington on Friday, Democracy Spring activists cuffed themselves to scaffolding in the Capitol rotunda. A video provided by the group ended when Capitol Police advised them they would be arrested because demonstrations inside the Capitol are prohibited.
“We the people demand a democracy free from the corruption influence of big money and voter suppression,” the protesters said in unison. “We demand a democracy where every vote is counted and every voice is heard.”
(Reporting by Valerie Vande Panne and Daniel Trotta, writing by Daniel Trotta, editing by G Crosse)