Light display on Walker Art Center bridge protests money in politics

June 23, 2014
Aaron Rupar

A group of activists protested the role money plays in American politics with a light display on the Walker Art Center bridge on Saturday night, after the first day of Rock the Garden concluded.

One of the protest's organizers, Phyllis Roden, tells us the display was in part inspired by the Minnesota legislature's failure to pass a bill calling on Congress to overturn Citizens United, the controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations, associations, or labor unions. (We reported on that bill in April. Read it here.)

"We're still out there, working on it," Roden says. "It's a new concept we thought we'd try. It's fun."

Roden says the tactic was inspired by Milwaukee's Overpass Light Brigade.

"It's effective. These messages don't go into the brain immediately, but at some point it's like, 'Oh yeah, I get it,'" she says, adding that a minimum of 12 people are needed, one to hold each of the lights.

Roden's group staged its first lighted protest outside the Capitol in St. Paul earlier this year after the Supreme Court's McCutcheon decision came down and further deregulated how donors can spend money on political candidates and groups. They also protested on the Walker bridge the week before Rock the Garden.

Roden says her group hasn't heard anything about the display from Walker officials.

"We haven't decided what our next move will be, whether we'll go to the Stone Arch Bridge, but it's kinda fun to keep doing it at the same place," she says. "The repetition starts to get noticed."

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