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December 17, 2017
 JED DODD
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March on Harrisburg, Corruption Exposed
Updated On: May 27, 2017

Money Out... People In... Money Out... People In


May 22, 2017 - BMWED members from the Pennsylvania Federation and other systems, divisions and federations around the country joined our friends “March on Harrisburg” in completing the very last leg of the 105 mile march from Philadelphia to the State Capital in Harrisburg, and once again we brought our big frigin’ rat to draw the little rats out of their rat nests where they can be exposed for all to see.

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE


In late March the Penn Fed unanimously passed a resolution supporting and endorsing the lobbying efforts of this extension of Democracy Spring with the March on Harrisburg, and the nonviolent civil disobedience that may accompany it. Our National Division also moved support for this demonstrative action.

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE


The “March on Harrisburg” group, some of whom had walked through scorching heat and torrential downpours over the last nine days to protest gerrymandering, lobbyists’ gifts to legislators, and what they called “systematic defector disenfranchisement.”

On Monday, May 22nd, protesters stood outside the office of Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), chanting for him to allow a vote in his committee on a measure that would ban most gifts to lawmakers. The protesters were enraged that Metcalfe has bottled up the bill (HB39) in his committee, preventing it from coming up for a full House vote. A huge banner, “Make Corruption Illegal" was unfurled from the inside top of the rotunda while Metcalfe was speaking to a group of Second Amendment supporters.

Rep. Metcallfe was to return to his office after this speach but numerous protesters blocked the entrance to his office with a sit-in. That act of civil disobedience led to their arrests. Other protesters formed a human chain outside a legislative hearing Metcalfe was to host, leading Capitol officers to arrest them too. The chanting in the corridors was so loud it disrupted all hopes of normal legislative operations.

State officials confirmed that 23 people were arrested (16 BMWED members) and charged with disorderly conduct, and told that they would be charged with trespassing if they attempt to enter the Capitol over the next few days, when more protests are planned. Although it is common for groups to hold rallies at the Capitol, rarely do they end with arrests.

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE

The following morning, May 23th, 5 members from March on Harrisburg gained entrance to Rep. Metcalfe’s office and refused to leave until Metcalfe met with them. They were dragged from the office in handcuffs by Capital police. Several of these protestors had been arrested the previous day.


NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE

Today (May 24th), protesters again went to Rep. Metcalfe's office, this time bearing gifts. Capital Police were on heightened alert and our gifts and message were ultimately left at the door.

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE

The bipartisan group of volunteer protesters said it hopes to “heal our wounded democracy” in Pennsylvania. Its members have met regularly with lawmakers since January to push bills addressing three issues: an end to gerrymandering when drawing congressional and legislative districts; a ban on unlimited gifts to lawmakers; and automatic voter registration.

“We selected these specific three goals ... because they’ve all been previously introduced in the House and Senate, so we thought they would stand the best chance of being called for a vote and eventually passing,” said Emily DiCicco, the March on Harrisburg spokeswoman.

Indeed, such bills have been around for years, but the legislature has steadfastly refused to tackle them. Unlike most other states, Pennsylvania doesn't limit how much in gifts lawmakers may receive. Lobbyists routinely dole out free meals, drinks and even tickets to expensive sporting events and recreational opportunities.

Such bills have been introduced before and seen no action. Gifts to state employees under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf are banned.

In an interview, Metcalfe said the gift ban bill was not a priority. “We see hundreds of bills on my committee," he said. "We prioritize.” Apparently banning gifts to Pennsylvania’s legislators is not one of Rep. Metcalfe’s priorities. If Pennsylvania’s Butler County constituents knew how Rep. Metcalfe felt about receiving lavish gifts (bribes) from lobbyists then perhaps his re-election efforts would wither and die. Likely so.


NO JUSTICE, NO PEACENO JUSTICE, NO PEACE

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE

According to the Center for Public Integrity’s 2015 State Integrity Investigation, Pennsylvania received a failing grade in integrity, as measured by factors such as electoral oversight, legislative and judicial accountability, and political financing. 


NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE

March on Harrisburg members close out a week of Capitol protests Wednesday by bearing "gifts" to House State Government Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe's office.

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE


NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE

Media Links:

PennLive, May 22nd link

Philly.com, May 22nd link

Fox News, May 23rd link with graphic images

PennLive, May 24th link with graphics


 

Pictures of this protest and civil disobedience posted in our photo gallery.


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