Democracy Protests in D.C.

The California Connection
The Democracy Spring protests have strong California roots. (Democracy Spring)

Suzanne Potter /California News Service

LOS ANGELES – California has a long history of setting political trends, and actually gave birth to the massive eight-day Democracy Spring protests that wrapped up in Washington D.C. this week.

Close to 1,000 people have been arrested during the sit-ins, where activists railed against corruption and the influence of money in politics.

Specifically, they denounce the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision that declared that corporations have the same legal rights as people, which led to an explosion of super PACs and dark money.

Democracy Spring communications director, Peter James Callahan, says the movement started two years ago with a “March for Democracy” from L.A. to Sacramento.

“After that, they had two weeks of nonviolent sit-ins at the California Capitol, which resulted in two out of their three bills being passed.”

The March for Democracy protests convinced California legislators to call for a state constitutional convention to pass an amendment to overturn Citizens United.

And in January the state assembly passed AB 700, the Disclose Act, which forces more transparency in political advertising.

Kai Newkirk co-founded the advocacy group 99Rise! in Los Angeles, and is now the campaign manager for Democracy Spring. He says even though Congress is controlled by Republicans who don’t support progressive goals, the Democracy Spring movement has still made its point.

“’Cause we’re gonna lift this issue up that creates a political price for anyone who defends the status quo of corruption and refuses to stand with the people and push for reform to save our democracy,.” says Newkirk

Many of Democracy Spring’s member groups are based in California, including the Courage Campaign, which works on progressive causes in the Golden State.