Marchers against ‘big money’ politics reach Merced on way to Sacramento

06/11/2014 11:18 PM

06/11/2014 11:23 PM

Activists marching from Los Angeles to Sacramento to oppose “big money corruption” in political campaigns reached Merced on Wednesday.

About two dozen marchers held signs and waved flags as part of the “480-mile March for Democracy,” a trek organized by 99Rise. Marchers oppose recent Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United v. FEC that removed limits on campaign donations.

“It made the problem of money in politics much, much worse,” said Kai Newkirk, co-founder of 99Rise.

Allowing corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money gives them an uneven say in politics, he said, and flies in the face of the principal “one person, one vote.”

Newkirk, a 33-year-old from Los Angeles, said marchers walked about 20 miles Wednesday after a stop in Chowchilla.

About a dozen people are making the entire march, and they are usually joined by local supporters as they trek north, Newkirk said. The march has also had notable participants like political activist Lawrence Lessig and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta.

Bill Rudd of Merced met the marchers in the park. He said his grandson is one of the trekkers who set off from Los Angeles, and he supports the cause. “We don’t need lobbyists controlling politicians,” the 79-year-old said.

Luis Avelar, 70, of Atwater also showed his support for the marchers. A member of the Merced Organizing Project, he said it’s important for grass-roots efforts of like-minded people to come together.

He said the money tied up in politics should concern everyone. “We depend on politicians to work together with us to better the health of the community,” he said in Spanish.

Newkirk said the marchers want to enact a three-part plan to add an amendment to the Constitution.

The marchers plan to end the walk in Sacramento on June 22. Newkirk said they hope to be met by elected officials when they reach the Capitol, and are prepared to conduct a sit-in if they are ignored.

The group is set to leave from Courthouse Park at 7 a.m. today as it heads to its next stop, Winton.

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