By Alejandra Carillo
Outside a Bank of America in downtown Los Angeles, the 99Rise movement kicked off their first civil disobedience last Friday. 99Rise is a nationwide movement engaged in non-violent protests to bring democracy back to the United States.
Kai Newkirk, the founding organizer of 99Rise in California, invited East Los Angeles College to be a part of this movement. Elans gathered at a meeting he hosted where he explained that it is time for a new stage in our democracy, and that it is this generation’s duty to try and do something about it.
The purpose of their first civil disobedience on Friday was to demand that the government explains where taxpayers’ money goes. According to the 99Rise web page, this kickoff was the largest American civil disobedience campaign of the 21st century, demanding an end to “dark money,” a term for funds that are used to pay for an election campaign before the people vote.
The website also said the purpose of the 99Rise movement is to break the chain that money holds on American politics and to reclaim democracy for the 99 percent. The movement wants to inform people of the power their voice and vote holds, and encourages them to use it.
The 99Rise movement represents the 99 percent of population in the United States who do not belong to the so-called elite one percent, which consists of the wealthy and those who hold power in the government. Newkirk says that he knows that the government will respond quicker and take the people’s voice more serious if the people take matters into their hands by trying to make a change in a civil way.
Newkirk said that this democracy is losing its economic war because the government is no longer responding to an average person’s vote; they respond to wealthy people and big money. “There is a tremendous amount of power in anyone and everyone. We all have the power to be leaders and start any movement. It only takes one person to set a goal but a group to make a difference,” Newkirk said.
Newkirk also said this sit-in protest would be a win-win situation for the people. He said if there were any arrests, it meant the governement is hiding something from citizens. If they weren’t hiding anything, they’d let the people know where the money was going. “I have been arrested six times during non-violent protests for refusing to leave the premises and will continue to risk arrest until change is done,” Newkirk said.
Elan Christian Escobar was part of this movement. He said he felt that the employees at the bank were notified that there was going to be a non-violent protest. Guards and police officers closed down the building and didn’t allow anyone to go in after eight students from Occidental College were arrested for not leaving the premises after being asked to. These students were released Saturday after people donated money to pay for their bail.
Escobar said that in any future civil disobedience that 99Rise hosts, everyone needs to be more in-sync with one another, and there needs to be media coverage.“I feel clubs at any college, or people in general, should gather and discuss crucial issues at least once a month, and what we can do to bring change to these issues,” Escobar said.
Members from the ELAC Students for Political Science and the Sociology clubs also joined Escobar. They agreed on having people communicate more clearly and unite so that they can be heard.