A day before the two-year anniversary of the Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling, more than 200 protesters gathered Friday at St. James Park in San Jose.
The rally was held in support of the Move to Amend demonstrations taking place in cities across the country this weekend. Protesters are proposing a constitutional amendment that would reverse Citizens United, which paved the way for corporations and unions to spend an unlimited amount of money on political campaigns. The court equated spending restrictions to an unconstitutional limit on free speech.
A group of women called The Raging Grannies sang a political tune to start the event, skits starring corporate robots were performed on stage and people shared personal stories about how they’ve been affected by corporate greed and lost their voice as a result of the Supreme Court ruling. The group then marched from the old courthouse to City Hall.
The event was one of the largest “Occupy” rallies in San Jose since they began last year, and some attendees said they believe this is a sign that Occupy San Jose is gaining momentum.
“I would definitely say it’s building, but I can’t say it’s only starting now because I can’t take away from the people who were out here starting it all,” said Andrew “Society” Bigelow, a performer at the event. “I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
While speaking in front of City Hall, San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra said people’s voices are being drowned out by corporate dollars as a result of Citizens United, which is “shutting us out of our own democracy.” He added that Assembly Bill 1148, also known as the California Disclose Act, should be supported because it would require more transparency behind political ads and the people who finance them.
“The California Disclosure Act is at least going to allow us to know who the big money people are, who the corporations are that are funding propositions,” Kalra said.
Kalra and fellow councilmembers Kansen Chu, Sam Liccardo and Don Rocha signed a memo Friday supporting the bill.
Caroline Yacoub, a Green Party member, was one of many at the event calling for the end of corporate personhood.
“Corporations are not people, and money is not speech,” she said. “I’m really upset about the way [corporate money] has already affected elections, and I really think that this is a chance to give the corporations the idea that we’re not just gonna sit here and take this anymore. And maybe they can buy more TV time and they can buy more ads, but that doesn’t mean we have to believe them or do what they say. Because we won’t.”