Hundreds arrested at US Capitol at 'Democracy Spring' protests

The more than 400 demonstrators arrested outside the US Capitol on Monday represented Democracy Spring, a coalition that seeks to end the influence of big money on government.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Alejandra Pablos of Arizona leads a chant as voting rights reform demonstrators stage a sit-in at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, urging lawmakers to take money out of the political process.

More than 400 people were arrested Monday for peacefully protesting money's influence in politics outside the US Capitol.

The protest was organized by a coalition of more than 100 organizations and is one of many planned for this week, under a campaign the groups call "Democracy Spring," which aims to help "end the legalized corruption of our democracy and ensure that every American has an equal voice in government," says the coalition on its website.

Many of the protesters before Monday had already marched nearly 140 miles from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., starting on April 2.

At the Capitol Monday, about 600 demonstrators sang and chanted slogans like "one person, one vote" and "money out of politics,” reports the Associated Press. One person held a sign that read "Things go better without Koch," reports the AP, referring to the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, who have promised to spend $900 million to back their favorite candidates in the presidential election.

"Every American deserves an equal voice in government. That is our birthright of freedom, won through generations of struggle," Democracy Spring says on its website. "But today our democracy is in crisis," its website says.

The organization lists among its dozens of supporters actor Mark Ruffalo; Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig; and linguist, philosopher, and political activist Noam Chomsky. It is calling on the US Congress to end the corruption of big money in politics and to ensure free and fair elections. On its website, Democracy Spring identifies four reform bills already pending that it's asking Congress to act on, or to introduce new anti-corruption legislation.

"We believe this is the people's house, and Congress should be responsive to the people. We need to protect voting rights," said Peter Callahan, the group's communications coordinator, according to Reuters.

On Monday, US Capitol police arrested dozens of protesters and took them away in plastic handcuffs on a bus and shuttle vans. Police said they were arrested for "unlawful demonstration activity," and that those taken into custody will be charged with "crowding, obstructing and incommoding," reported CNN.

Democracy Spring is planning sit-in protests every day of this week. It says that 3,500 people from 33 states have pledged to join the organization in protests this week.

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