Six demonstrators were arrested at the U.S. Capitol today during a “flash mob” protest.
Approximately 100 protestors, affiliated with October2011 Stop the Machine, and some from the Occupy D.C. movement, showed up at the Hart Senate Office Building at 11:30 a.m. for a “flash mob” protest, chanting phrases like “End War Now” and “The People United Will Never Be Defeated” and “We Are the 99 Percent.”
The demonstration took place in the atrium of Hart, one of three Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill, where about a third of 100 U.S. senators have space to conduct the people’s business.
Before the outburst of activism, demonstrators spread throughout the building, talking quietly among one another.
But then as the clock ticked 11:30 a.m., protestors began shouting various phrases in unison and unfurled a long pink banner with an anti-war message, which was quickly snagged by police officers.
After repeated warnings from law enforcement to disband, including one officer shouting instructions through a bullhorn, police began shepherding the demonstrators into one corner of the building. A handful that resisted was then placed into flexi-cuffs and arrested.
U.S. Capitol Police announced that a total of six demonstrators had been arrested and charged with unlawful conduct for demonstrating in a Capitol building, and are currently being processed at Capitol Police headquarters, according to spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider.
Most of the demonstrators, who have been camped out at Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington, were older veterans of public activism, wearing bandanas, anti-war pins and tie-dye clothing.
While the majority of the demonstrators seemed to be there to protest war, some were there from Occupy D.C,. an extension of the Occupy Wall Street movement, to protest capitalism and corporate greed.
“For me, it started because you have corporate bailouts, you have the government supporting corporations giving them breaks, but you have the taxpayers – it’s coming out of the taxpayers’ dollars,” said unemployed actor/artist-turned demonstrator Andrew Honeycomb. “We need some regulations. I don’t have all of the answers. I don’t know – I just know that a change needs to be made.”
Bob Ballard, another demonstrator, said he drove to the Capitol with three others from Ojai, Calif., and participated in today’s protest to “help occupy Washington, D.C. and take back this country for the American people.
“I’ve been watching the slow denigration of what we used to call the United States of America that over a period of time has been co-opted by major corporate interests and people who are interested in making profits at any cost, including ours,” Ballard said, noting “a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the upper class.”
While the demonstrations protested both war and the economy, Ballard said “they all have a common thread.”
“They’re about restoring human dignity and human rights around the world,” he said. “It’s not about particular political systems, it’s not about ideologies, it’s about simply giving people a fair share, some economic justice of the work and the labor that they struggle so hard to create.”