Last Thursday I protested with the group 99Rise at Citibank. We wanted Citibank to immediately and fully disclose their outside political spending. Not surprisingly, Citibank refused to sign the petition; therefore, we peacefully protested outside of the bank and refused to move until the police demanded we leave the premises or risk arrest.
We had dollar bills over our mouths to symbolize the voter’s suppression by money and corporations. The group 99Rise believes we need to challenge big money now and that “voters deserve to know who really owns each candidate, and faced with an unchecked +900 million flood of dark money” the only option is to demand disclosure from the most likely offenders (99Rise.org). According to 99Rise, “Wall Street has spent $1,331 per minute on political influence since 2006.”
We initially met in the middle of downtown LA and walked to Citibank, and the entire way to the bank police officers slowly followed us on bikes. When we arrived at Citibank the doors were locked and there was already a major police presence. After about an hour the officers informed us we must leave immediately for trespassing. While the rest of the group left five brave people, three of whom are current oxy students, remained and were arrested.
The five arrested were charged with, “failure to disperse from an unlawful assembly.” Bail was set at $5,000
Similar protests have been occurring in different states across the United States, a few days earlier three teenage girls were arrested in New York at JPMorgan Chase.
Advertisements have been used in political campaigns to attack the other candidates. According to the New York Times article, republicans who have been against restrictions on campaign spending agree that legislation may be necessary to limit negative advertisements.
Some politicians may see the benefit for disclosing or limiting donations, but how will the 99Rise movement actually evoke change in the political system? Will it fizzle out just like Occupy Wall Street? I believe a significant difference between these two movements is that 99Rise has a main goal, which is to reveal and educate voters about dark money in politics. Hopefully this movement will gain attention from political officials and legislation will be proposed to prohibit anonymous donations to SuperPACs.