DEMOCRACY SPRING 2017
July 20, 2017
I’m excited to share with you some big news. 99Rise is officially adopting the banner of Democracy Spring and continuing the pursuit of our mission in a new form.
As you may remember well, 99Rise was born in the spring of 2012 in the wake of the Occupy moment. From a living room in Los Angeles, seven of us launched an experiment, striving to build a momentum-driven organization capable of waging growing campaigns of escalating nonviolent action to end the corruption of Big Money in politics.
We organized sit-ins in Wall St. banks; trainings across California, in New York, DC, and Philadelphia; a 480-mile march and 12-day occupation of the state capitol in California; an extended fast; many creative actions; and three different video-captured disruptions of the Supreme Court, elevating our issues in unprecedented ways and bringing new momentum to the democracy movement.
Then in the fall of 2015, we conceived of a campaign to radically shift the political weather on our issue. That winter, we convened a coalition of over 120 organizations and in the spring of 2016 we spearheaded a 140-mile march from Philadelphia to Washington DC, followed by a historic week of non-stop sit-ins at the US Capitol.
Our demand to Congress was simple: immediately enact existing legislation that would end the corruption of big money in politics and establish free and fair elections for all. Refusing us, our government instead decided to arrest hundreds of people. Day after day, for a week, we sat-in and after over 1,300 arrests, the campaign was one of the largest American acts of civil disobedience of the 21st century. It was a watershed moment for the democracy movement. This was the beginning of Democracy Spring.
Coming out of the epic April 2016 campaign, it was clear to the 99Rise leadership team that our best shot at accomplishing our mission to get money out of politics was to continue to build with the thousands of people we had mobilized as Democracy Spring. 99Rise leaders came together with others members of the Democracy Spring steering committee and members of its staff team to form an Interim National Coordinating Committee that worked over the last year to adapt the DNA (or defining principles and practices) of 99Rise to define a new movement organization that would carry 99Rise’s mission forward while integrating the lessons and strengths of the April campaign under a banner that was now much more widely-known: Democracy Spring.
Our foundational structure, theory of change, and strategic objective remain the same: we are a decentralized movement organization using escalating nonviolent action to build active public support and force through fundamental reform that would give us a real and equal democracy.
The major changes to the DNA are threefold: (1) We now understand that protecting voting rights is an essential companion to getting money out of politics if we want to realize sufficient political equality to break through the status quo of corruption. (2) We have updated our principles to reflect what we’ve learned in our years of organizing and to better inoculate us against predictable challenges. (3) We have overhauled our Grand Strategy to respond to the vastly changed political landscape we now see after the 2016 election.
Now the volunteer leaders who built 99Rise to be the kind of organization that could make Democracy Spring possible have voted overwhelmingly (85%) to fully integrate 99Rise and Democracy Spring and to adopt the DNA and name of Democracy Spring.
99Rise provided the original DNA, leadership, vision, and base that bloomed into Democracy Spring. All that we’ve done since the April campaign—mass civil disobedience at the DNC, training hundreds in the DNA, nationwide protests of the Electoral College, and nonviolent direct actions targeting Trump Tower, Congress, Inauguration Day, Jeff Sessions, Neil Gorsuch, and Senate Republicans—has grown from the visionary seeds sown by us, by all of you.
As one of the seven who was in that living room in Los Angeles when we started 99Rise, I am deeply humbled, proud, and inspired to think of the journey from there to here and of all that we have done and built in that time. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being part of that journey. I am very confident that the foundation we laid together and the community we have cultivated will continue to grow in this new form into the mass movement of civil resistance we need to win a democracy that works for all of us, not just the wealthiest 1%.
To learn more about Democracy Spring, click here to explore the website.
With gratitude, hope, and determination,
Kai Newkirk, for the 99Rise leadership and the Democracy Spring team
About Democracy Spring:
Every American deserves an equal voice in government. That is our birthright of freedom, won through generations of struggle. But today our democracy is in crisis. American elections are dominated by billionaires and big money interests who can spend unlimited sums of money on political campaigns to protect their special interests at the general expense. Meanwhile, as the super-rich dominate the “money primary” that decides who can run for office, almost half of the states in the union have passed new laws that disenfranchise everyday voters, especially people of color and the poor.
This corruption violates the core principle of American democracy — one person, one vote” citizen equality. And it is blocking reform on virtually every critical issue facing our country: from addressing historic economic inequality, to tackling climate change and ending mass incarceration. We simply cannot solve the urgent crises that face our nation if we don’t save democracy first.
But if the status quo goes unchallenged, the 2016 election— already set to be the most billionaire-dominated, secret money-drenched, voter suppression-marred contest in modern American history —will likely yield a President and a Congress more bound to the masters of big money than ever before. And our planet and people just can’t afford that.
Published on Apr 15, 2016
The Democracy Spring protests continue in Washington, D.C. with the goal of fighting corruption and money in politics. It is the largest demonstration of civil disobedience in the 21st century. Actress Rosario Dawson was recently among those arrested. in Cenk Uygur, John Iadarola (ThinkTank), and Jayar Jackson, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.
“About 100 more people have been arrested in Washington, D.C., as part of the ongoing Democracy Spring protests against corruption and big money in politics. Wednesday marked the third consecutive day of mass arrests at the U.S. Capitol, after 85 were arrested Tuesday and more than 400 on Monday.”
Read more here: