Local News

Local 'Occupy' activists join national courthouse protest

Posted January 20, 2012 2:31 a.m. EST
Updated January 20, 2012 2:54 p.m. EST

— Activists from around the Triangle joined those in more than 100 cities across the country Friday to protest a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision about campaign finance.

A grassroots coalition called Move to Amend said the protest kicks off petition drives to gain support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, a 2010 court ruling that allowed private groups to spend large amounts on political campaigns with few restrictions.

The ruling and others stripped away some limits on campaign contributions and led to the emergence of so-called super political action committees (Super PACS), which can spend unlimited amounts of cash to influence elections. Although a Super PAC cannot coordinate directly with a campaign, many are staffed by longtime supporters or former aides of candidates.

So far, Super PACS have spent at least $10 million nationwide on ads in the Republican primary race to choose a candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in November.

Occupy Wall Street activists are joining the protests.

About 30 people from movements in Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham peacefully protested outside the federal courthouse on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh.

"We're here because the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision, which basically decided that corporations have undue influence on elections by basically creating Super PACs and donating as much money as they want anonymously," Jeremy Gilchrist, of the Occupy Raleigh movement, said.

Gilchrist said he believes the demonstration is an effective way to raise awareness on the issue.