Alex Lawson of Social Security Works was stopped by the DC police and prevented from questioning the powerful elite Super Committee members for an FDL livestream after their meeting on Capital Hill today.
Last year, Alex’s interview with Catfood Commission Co-Chair Alan Simpson went viral as people learned of the committee’s desire to close the deficit by cutting Social Security benefits. FDL was broadcasting Alex’s livestream of the committee’s closed door each time they met. It was a symbolic protest of secret committees where elites decided policy with no transparency or ability for public oversight.
Local group Our DC was protesting outside the committee room, demanding that the group to whom Congress has handed over its lawmaking powers focus on jobs creation rather than jobs-crushing austerity measures. Here is Alex’s report:
I was livestreaming from inside the supercommittee room today and the first thing I noted was that there was a huge media presence. I don’t expect the media to stay focused on it moving forward, which is why our continued efforts are going to be crucial. About midway through the introductory statements from supercommittee members I heard chanting coming through the partially opened doors, “Jobs Not Cuts! Jobs Not Cuts!” and “What do we want? Jobs! When do we want them? Now!”
I left the committee room to capture some footage of what was going on, there were over 20 protesters from a local employment advocacy group Our DC, they stood in the hallway chanting about the need for jobs. Seeing as though District unemployment surpasses a 20 year high and Ward 8 in Southeast Washington has the nation’s highest pocket of unemployed residents, it makes sense that people were motivated enough to risk arrest to get their message out.
The Capitol police handled the situation pretty well. It was a chaotic scene with a ton of media, onlookers and protesters mixed about. The Capitol police separated the protesters and moved them down the hall and then slowly allowed people back into the committee room. I later asked some Capitol police officers outside if any arrests were made and they responded “no.”
After the supercommittee meeting was over I left the room to get some statement from its members. It is completely legal for any citizen of the United States to stand in the hallways of Congress and question anyone who happens by, as long as the person is not blocked from walking away. So it is questionably legal that the Capitol police had formed a cordon ushering supercommittee members right to the media area and not letting anyone without a media credential stand around or ask questions.
I say kudos to Our DC for bring the people’s message to the supercommittee, risking arrest to make sure that committee members know that the American public want jobs not committees, jobs not meetings, jobs not photo ops, jobs not cuts!
It’s clear that elected officials are getting nervous about public anger over the state of the economy, while they continue to operate as an oligarchy responsive to the needs of the wealthy and the privileged at the expense of the vast majority of Americans. The Committee’s undemocratic structure, and focus on debt reduction over jobs creation, is just one example. As a result they increasingly seek to protect themselves from accountability, and punish anyone who protests their actions. Today was just the latest installment.