Demonstration with four people in handcuffs

Bob Hart, Marilyn Welker, Ellen Baumgartner and Chuck Lynd being arrested in Washington, DC during the Democracy Spring action.

Central Ohio activists Marilyn Welker, Bob Hart, Ellen Baumgartner and Chuck Lynd were among the 400 people arrested on the steps of the US Capitol during the “Democracy Spring” – one of the largest civil disobedience actions since the Vietnam War protests, demanding a democracy that works for everyone. They were supported by another Central Ohioan, Kathleen Gmeiner. Between April 11th-18th, 1,300 people were arrested. 

“Money ain't speech, corporations aren't people” was the main theme of the coalition of groups organized around various democracy and movement issues, but all with the underlying understanding that in order to see the change we want we must first eliminate the distorting influence of big money on our legislators and our democracy. As a build-up to the week of civil disobedience 150 marchers from 33 states walked 140 miles from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to the Freedom Bell in Washington DC. Along the way, they built community, spoke with thousands and attracted major media attention to the cause of our time, the corporate ownership of both major parties and the slavish devotion of Congress to the interests of the one percent. Many of the walkers also engaged in the sit-ins and were arrested.

Writer Chris Hedges, who was also arrested during the Democracy Spring sit-ins, had this to say: “The hundreds of arrests this past week have been largely ignored by a corporate media whose lobbyists are a familiar presence on Capitol Hill. The mass media’s blackout of the largest number of arrests at the Capitol in decades is one of innumerable examples of our corporate coup d’état. Corporate power will be overthrown only from the streets in sustained acts of civil disobedience." Hedges continued, "We will have to do this together. No one will do it for us. And as the numbers in the streets swell—and I will be with the protesters in Washington again on Monday—the corruption of our political system becomes ever more apparent.”

Leaders in this emerging pro-democracy movement plan on expanding it throughout the country. “Despite this unprecedented call to action, the congressional leadership did nothing,” Kai Newkirk, the campaign director of Democracy Spring, explained. “Now we will take the battle into their offices in D.C., their home districts and to their fundraisers, to the party conventions and beyond.”

Appears in Issue: