FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
8 Arrested in Los Angeles Sit-In at Bank of America; NYC Protestors Promise Second Wave of Sit-Ins If JP Morgan Chase Fails to Disclose By October 17th Deadline
(Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY, September 28) – Dozens of young citizens alarmed by the unprecedented flood of anonymous corporate money into the 2012 elections today launched 99Rise, a new anti-corruption movement to get Big Money out of American politics. In Los Angeles and New York City, 99Rise activists presented two major Wall Street bank executives with a simple, modest demand: full disclosure of all secret political expenditures. In the democratic tradition of 1960 Greensboro sit-ins that revitalized the Civil Rights movement, 8 protestors in Los Angeles participated in a coordinated act of civil disobedience at Bank of America Plaza, refusing to leave until their demand was met. Similarly, in New York City activists presented JP Morgan Chase with an October 17th deadline, promising to return for a second wave of sit-ins if the bank fails to disclose its secret political expenditures by that date.
“This is just the beginning,” said twenty-year-old Guido Girgenti, a college student who took off a year from school to serve as 99Rise’s east coast regional organizer. “Today we delivered a strong message to Wall Street and the super-rich that we will no longer stand by idly as they buy our elections in secret. Congress and the courts have failed to stand up for democratic transparency, and so it up to us as proud patriots to ensure that our nation does not continue down the path of corruption, where policy makers are auctioned off to the highest bidders behind the backs of the American people.”
99Rise is a grassroots response to the deep dissatisfaction felt by citizens across the political spectrum towards the increasing corruption of American government. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, billionaire and corporate spending on election ads has jumped by 1,139%. With an estimated $9.8 billion set to be spent during this electoral cycle, the 2012 elections will be the most expensive in history. This spending is increasingly bankrolled by anonymous, unaccountable funders who, because of a loophole in the tax code, conceal their political spending by funneling it through so-called “social welfare” organizations that are not required to disclose their donors and that can spend unlimited amounts of money running political ads. Due to the disproportionate political influence of wealthy donors in elections, one in four Americans say they are less likely to vote, and 75% of Americans believe money buys results in Congress.
Americans are right to believe that money has distorted the American democratic process. With the careers of elected politicians increasingly dependent on the money of extremely wealthy individual and corporate sponsors, nearly every area of policy making has been skewed to serve the interests of those donors at the expense of the vast majority of Americans. This dynamic has made it nearly impossible for the political system to respond effectively to the various crises the nation faces, from the jobs crisis to global climate change.
“I joined 99Rise because I was frustrated by how hard it was to find a decent job after graduation,” said Dimitri Groce, 99Rise’s 23-year-old west coast regional organizer. “I worked hard in high school, won a scholarship to a great college, and was excited to give back to society after graduating. But because of the recession and crippling state budget cuts, it was nearly impossible to find a good job in my field. The Big Banks got bailed out, but people like me were left to fend for ourselves. That’s wrong. I feel my government responds only to the demands of the super-rich and that my voice has been drowned out by their money.”
99Rise organizers plan several waves of sit-ins in the lobbies of Wall Street banks and other suspected secret money donors in the run up to the 2012 elections. The movement’s ultimate objective is to win a constitutional amendment banning private money from American politics and landmark federal legislation reforming the nation’s campaign finance and lobbying laws.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 28, 2012
Contact: Devon Whitham, devon@99Rise.org, (562) 370-8411
Kai Newkirk, kai@99Rise.org, (310) 703-3046