Over 200 people showed up for a rally this afternoon protesting the Citizens United decision and calling for a constitutional amendment banning corporate personhood. The protesters marched from Pritchard Park to the federal building in downtown Asheville.
The protests were organized by the Meet, Talk, Act — an affinity group of Occupy Asheville — and Move to Amend.
With a backdrop of people dressed as Supreme Court Justices and the Statue of Liberty, speakers including Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell and Dr. Errington Thompson addressed the crowd.
Bothwell asserted that the American Revolution was an overthrow of British corporate power and that the country needed to “keep the thumb” on corporations
“This has been building for a long time; corporations have amassed more and more power,” Bothwell said. “You deserve better than what’s being handed down, you deserve much better.”
He also encouraged the audience to refuse to vote for any candidate — Bothwell is running in the 11th congressional district — that received corporate contributions.
Corporations, Thompson said, “have turned our country on its head,” highlighting the foreclosure crisis.
“What we wanted was just a little piece of the pie: a nice home in a safe neighborhood,” Thompson said, but people ended up stuck in mortgages with terms they didn’t understand and couldn’t pay.
“This was out in the open, it was sanctioned American rip-off,” he said. “Our government needs to be accountable, the law needs to work for us.”
After the speakers, the crowd marched on the sidewalk down to the federal building, waving their signs at passerby and chanting “corporations are not people, money is not speech,” among other slogans. After gathering in front of the building complex, the protesters returned to Pritchard Park and dispersed.
There was a small police presence — both Asheville Police Department and federal protective services as the march neared the federal building — observing the march, but no altercations.
Photo by Bill Rhodes