More than 100 Kansas City demonstrators joined others nationwide Friday to protest a 2010 Supreme Court decision that removed most limits on corporate and labor spending in federal elections.
Despite frigid temperatures, Kansas City’s Occupy the Courts event was upbeat, with participants singing, chanting and listening to speeches for about two hours in front of the federal courthouse downtown. Speakers called for a constitutional amendment to overrule the court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC.
Rally organizer Mary Lindsay said the ruling has allowed corporations to flood campaigns with money and gain too much influence.
“It puts them in a situation where they are simply buying government,” Lindsay said.
Tom Comiskey said he drove in from Higginsville to protest the notion of corporate personhood that critics said the Supreme Court has fostered.
“I feel our political system is awash in corporate money,” Comiskey said. The Citizens United decision is odious. Corporations are not people and money does not constitute speech.”
The protest was peaceful, but one man was arrested as he marched up the courthouse steps with an American flag. Most of the rally participants stayed across the street from the courthouse in the Illus Davis Civic Mall.
Officers hustled William H. Drummond, 58, of Kansas City, into the courthouse atrium.
“I have a right to be here,” he yelled. “This is my courthouse.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Marshal’s Service said that rally organizers had agreed to keep most of the participants across the street to keep from blocking access to the courthouse.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Drummond was ticketed for failing to obey a lawful order, given a May 11 court date and released.
Move to Amend, which organized the protests nationwide, plans another local program Saturday, the second anniversary of the court’s ruling. Scheduled for All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church at 4501 Walnut Street from 5-7 p.m., the gathering will feature a satirical wedding between a person and a corporation.