A small, but dedicated group of anti-gun violence activists marched through the streets of Washington today in what organizers were calling the beginning of a Name and Shame campaign against DC lobbying firms which are paid from the large coffers of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to convince lawmakers to take pro-gun stances.
After a short noontime rally, the sign-carrying marchers headed out of McPherson Square, stopping at 5 NRA lobbying firms where march officials read the names of specific NRA lobbyists and left pictures of young children who had been victims of gun violence. They also read a list of other companies represented by the targeted lobbying firms and urged a phone and online campaign to convince those companies to find new lobbying groups that wouldn't accept "NRA blood money."
At each stop, a replica of a giant check from the NRA to the firm bearing the Occupy the NRA tagline "Thanks for shooting down common sense gun laws" was displayed. The amounts of the checks varied from $40,000 to $240,000. According to the Occupy the NRA, the NRA, which represents about 4 million members, reportedly spent more than $2.5 million to convince lawmakers to act in its behalf, money which anti-gun violence proponents conntend is nothing more than legally authorized bribes.
Organizers said the actions were a first step in bringing lobbying groups out of the shadows. "We are going to name you and we are going to shame you," they repeatedly said.
Although the firms were located on many streets, K Street is famous for its lobbying houses and, as such, stands as a symbol for the anti-gun violence effort. "K Street is where very wealthy people come to make sure that even wealthier people make even more money," one protester said, encapsulating the idea of the famed street.
As they marched through the downtown accompanied by a police contingent, the activists chanted slogans. "Shame on the NRA; Shame on the Lobbyists" alternated with "Gun checks save lives,"or "Protect our kids, protect the police."
While some downtown observers of the march just stared, others took a more active role. Several came up to ask protesters questions. Others beeped their horns in support or mouthed the slogans with the marchers. Many, obviously part of the group of 90 percent of Americans who, unlike 45 dissenting U.S. Senators which Occupy the NRA has labeled cowards, favor universal background checks for gun sales, thanked individual marchers for their efforts and urged them not to give up.
While some of the marchers lamented the low turnout for the last-minute action, others took a more philosophical approach. "This is just one action on one day. It will be a long, hard fight. They have the money, but we have the moral ground. The next time, and there will be a next time, and a time after that, and a time after that, our numbers will grow. We're not going anywhere until we get a government for the people, not for the profit-makers and those politicians who only care about getting re-elected."
At the rally preceding the march, Maria Roach, a former NBC News TV producer who left her job to become a full-time anti-gun activist after the Tayvon Martin tragedy in Florida, spoke of the importance of the day.
"Let this be the day that moves you to action," Roach said. "Today is the day we say enough. As a news producer, I saw so much yellow (crime) tape blowing in the wind. It's not, as some would have you believe, about the 2nd Amendment. It's about having power and keeping power. I say shame on you NRA and shame on you lobbyists for putting the dollar before the lives of innocent children."
Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
|Nardyne Jordan speaking out|