5 Protests Blooming in Washington, D.C., This Spring
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It’s not just the cherry blossoms busting out across Washington, D.C., but protests of all varieties.
In April alone, large contingents of activists campaigning around a broad range of local and global issues — immigration, corruption, spying, the environment, economic inequality and militarism — will march, sing, craft, petition, lobby, fast, sit, camp and ride horseback into the city.
As the snow melts in our collective memory, creative acts of resistance are taking hold on the wet ground of Washington. Here’s a look at five of them.
1. Act. Fast.
In the first week of April, more than a hundred women spent 48 hours in the nation’s capital at the close of a month-long national fast to end deportations and compel the administration to take action on fair immigration. Following the nationwide April 5 day of action against deportations, We Belong Together co-sponsored Act. Fast. to highlight the stories of women and children who are disproportionately burdened by our broken immigration system.
As with any fast, the women were faced with daunting questions about how to make this tactic relevant, not only as a personal statement and spiritual commitment, but also as an effective political action. Fasts and their political cousin, the hunger strike, speak most eloquently within a cultural context that acknowledges the power of fasting. That context has been commonly limited to religious communities and specific cultures that are not prevalent in the United States. This creates significant challenges for those wanting to use fasting effectively.
The women decided to boldly go public with their own personal commitment and willingness to risk. In this case, they multiplied their impact by fasting on the National Mall. They engaged passers-by by making the space welcoming and as open as possible. They set up the Courage Cafe — complete with “courage menus,” checkered table cloths and potted flowers. Sofas were also brought in to stage a comfortable living room space conducive for “courage conversations” about how ordinary people are urging Congress and the Obama administration to have the courage to take action now. Tables were also dedicated to sowing — and sewing — personal messages onto heart-shaped cloth and paper as “food” for courageous action that were delivered en masse to Congress members.
2. NSA: Stop spying on us
The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to move a bill within the next month that, like its Senate counterpart, would essentially legalize mass surveillance. At the same time, the USA FREEDOM Act, which would make some changes to current NSA spying in favor of privacy, is languishing in the House Judiciary Committee. To influence its chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, to stop dragging his feet on moving the bill out of committee, a coalition of national groups called for constituents to take action on April 10 around the country.
In Washington, two-foot by three-foot LED lit letters spelling “#STOP SPYING” were deployed by The People’s Campaign for the Constitution in the early evening in front of the White House. Harnessing these Light Brigade tactics to illuminate the dark unconstitutionality of the national spying apparatus is a logical response.
3. Representation Day
With the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the McCutcheon case, now unceremoniously referred to as Citizen’s United 2, it has become ever more clear that policy decisions are increasingly being made by whomever can write the biggest campaign check, or bribe. For a small number of folks, that is great news. For the rest of us, who can’t afford to buy access, it’s akin to taxation without representation.