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News Blackout Greets Citizens United Protest in Seattle

Posted: 01/22/2012 10:42 pm

Hundreds of people braved the cold temperatures in Seattle Saturday to stand in solidarity with nationwide demonstrations against the Supreme Court's controversial "Citizens United" ruling. January 21 marked the one year anniversary of that important judicial decision.

Occupy Seattle activists claim that the Supreme Court's ruling allows corporations to give unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns, thereby subverting the democratic process. The organization "Move To Amend" had called for protests at federal courthouses all across the US. Their main demand has been - "Get the money out of political campaigns!" The group's been pushing for an amendment to the US Constitution that would overturn the Supreme Court's ruling.

Originally, demonstrations were scheduled to take place at the federal courthouse in Seattle on January 20, but those rallies were cancelled due to a major snow and ice storm that hit the area. Half a million people lost power when electrical lines went down and Governor Christine Gregoire was forced to declare a state of emergency.

By the next day, however, the sun came out to welcome the protesters at Westlake Park. Occupy Seattle participants rallied with other community groups in coordination with the national protests.US Congressman Jim McDermott was one of the speakers at the rally. The crowd in the park repeated the congressman's words, using what activists call "the people's microphone."

Occupy Seattle participant Dorli Rainey also spoke at the demonstrations. Surprisingly, for the first time in weeks, reporters did not converge on her to seek an exclusive interview. Dorli was finally able to interact directly with the protesters without media interference. She made it very clear that she did not want to be surrounded by the usual news media cameras.

Although Rainey may have been pleased, members of the Occupy Seattle media working group were surprised by the total lack of local news coverage. The usual mainstream reporters and camera crews were not present at any of the day's events. The event organizers began to discuss the issue but they couldn't account for the unexplained news black out.

After a spirited rally in the park with music and speakers, the protesters marched to the Jackson Federal Building in the center of Seattle's downtown business and financial district. The parade was led by a Dixieland jazz band and a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty. They marched alongside a huge copy of the US Constitution.

The mood was upbeat and festive. One protester wore a comical bird mask. He held a sign that read, "Corporate Vulture!" The brass band played and people danced in the streets as they moved down 4th Avenue chanting, "This is what democracy looks like!"

Another boisterous rally was held at the federal building around 3 p.m.. One female protester shouted out, "Corporations are not people!"

Back at Westlake Park, the demonstrators prepared for an act of organized civil disobedience. Some of the activists decided to stage a protest by erecting tents in the same park where 40 people had been arrested by Seattle police in October. As DJ's performed for a dance party at the park, people began gathering for a one day occupation.

An anonymous demonstrator explained their actions.

"I'm not leaving the park tonight! The police will just have to get used to our style of protesting. We are peaceful. We are not here to cause problems, but we need to stand our ground and let people who support us know that we haven't gone away. We are still here fighting for the ninety nine percent!"

Mark Taylor-Canfield is a musician and activist who writes from Seattle. If you would like to contribute as a citizen journalist to The Huffington Post's coverage of American political life, please contact us at www.offthebus.org.