Friends of the Earth Action President arrested with hundreds of Democracy Awakening activists at U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, Friends of the Earth Action President Erich Pica of was arrested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building in an unprecedented mass sit-in to reclaim American democracy from the deep-pocketed and anti-environmental special interests emboldened by the U.S. Supreme Courts’ Citizen’s United ruling.

“During the past week—and throughout the 2016 presidential elections—Americans are waking up and realizing that our democratic processes, our elections, our right to vote, the very core of our identity as a nation, is in crisis” said Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth Action. “Today, I joined hundreds of people in non-violent protest to tell Congress, the Supreme Court and the moneyed interests from around the country enough. We need free and fair elections and politicians that are uncorrupted by outside money. We need this for the sake of our planet, our health, our sense as a nation, and for equity and justice. “

More than 1,000 citizens have been arrested in our nation’s capital since April 11, with thousands more taking to the streets demanding a government of, by and for the people; not just for the super rich. A diverse coalition of 250 social movements and organizations representing hundreds of thousands of individual members have united to demand a democracy that works for all of us. Today was the culmination of mass mobilizations under the joint banners of Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening, both endorsed by Friends of the Earth Action.

Last week, Friends of the Earth projected 16-story images on the office fronts of D.C.’s top pollution lobbyists. The visual protest aimed to spotlight exorbitant political spending against the environment. Over the weekend, Benjamin Schreiber, climate and energy program director; and Jonathan Fox, senior democracy campaigner, were both arrested while taking part in the climate justice march highlighting the role of dirty energy companies blocking the environmental and public health regulations necessary to protect us all from the worst impacts of climate change.

“Our elections are flooded with polluter money working to erect barriers for everyday Americans who care about the environment, blocking them from our political system,” said Pica. “Add to that laws that suppress the voting rights of people of color, students and low-income Americans and we get political representatives who fail to act on our shared values and concerns for the environment.

To protect our planet for future generations, we need to deepen and strengthen our democracy. When corporate polluters spend millions influencing elections or when politicians manipulate voting rules to restrict who can participate, we all pay a heavy price. It’s time for Congress to restore and protect the right to vote for all Americans while enacting common sense rules so that money can’t buy regulation. It’s time for a Democracy Awakening.


Expert contact: Jon Fox, (510) 542-9474,
Communications contact: EA Dyson, (202) 222-0730,