99Rise Wants to Be Non Violent Militant Wing of Big Money in Politics Movement

Common Cause. Public Citizen. Center for Responsive Politics. United Republic. Root Strikers. Move to Amend.

There must be close to twenty non profits currently working on the question of big money in politics.

But only one is practicing the non violent civil disobedience of the 1960s – 99Rise.

Last week, three high school students from 99Rise were arrested at JPMorgan Chase in lower Manhattan protesting the billions of dollars of secret money flooding into the political system to influence voters this election cycle.

The three said they wanted the full disclosure of the bank’s anonymous political expenditures.

The students, who delivered a petition to the bank over three weeks ago articulating their demand, refused to leave the bank’s premises until the requested information was handed over to the public.

The bank instead chose to shut down the entire 60 floor building and have them arrested.

Also last week, five people from 99Rise were arrested at a similar protest outside a Citibank office in Los Angeles.

“The difference between 99Rise and many of those other organizations is that 99Rise is committed to using the tactics of escalating non violent civil disobedience,” Devon Whitham of 99Rise told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week.

“We see ourselves in the tradition of the civil rights movement, the women’s suffrage movement, the anti-apartheid movement and many others throughout history that have used more radical tactics – strictly non violent tactics.”

“We seek to speak to people who agree with us on the issues, but who are not necessarily actively involved yet by making sacrifices, risking arrest, and other forms of sacrifices.”

“There is room for us. We are not necessarily policy experts.”

“We are not working the inside game in terms of counting votes in Congress, we are not going to be the ones necessarily meeting with politicians, or drafting the amendment.”

“We are not lawyers.”

“We are not experts.”

“We are hoping we are experts at organizing people, mobilizing them, and getting them into the streets, and getting them invested in creating a lasting movement that will ultimately be the wind at the back of other groups that are doing more of the inside game.”

99Rise grew out of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

But unlike Occupy, it has an explicit goal – a constitutional amendment on getting money out of politics.

And it names its leaders – including the people who started 99Rise – Whitham, Kai Newkirk and Paul Engler, among others.

“There was leadership at Occupy and there is,” Whitham said.

“There were people there every day leading some of the general assemblies and organizing the committees and maintaining the Facebook page and doing all of the work that made Occupy Occupy.”

“But there was not real acknowledgment of that leadership.”

“We believe that leadership is important.”

“We need to be able to develop as much leadership in as many people as possible to be able to have a chance at success and victory on this issue.”

“As for issues, Occupy was trying to create a culture that they hoped would spread out into the mainstream culture.

“And that is one of horizontalism, direct democracy – and I think that’s beautiful. That was symbolically beautiful.”

“I liked that about it.”

“It fed my spiritual needs.”

“But we have a concrete goal. And we are willing to develop our structure in a way that we believe will maximize our likelihood of being successful.”

[For the complete q/a transcript of the Interview with Devon Whitham, see 26 Corporate Crime Reporter 42(13), October 29, 2012, print edition only.]

Copyright © Corporate Crime Reporter
In Print 48 Weeks A Year

Built on Notes Blog Core
Powered by WordPress