Frequently Asked Questions
Democracy Awakening Lineup
Sunday’s Rally for Democracy
Monday’s Non-Violent Direct Action
Coordination with Democracy Spring
Democracy Awakening Lineup
Democracy Awakening will take place Saturday, April 16, Sunday, April 17 and Monday, April 18.
Saturday, April 16 - Teach, Learn, Transform
Saturday will feature teach-ins, workshops and direct action trainings by powerful leaders from around the country who will inspire us as we build a movement to fight back against the attacks on democracy. There will be workshops and talks from leaders in the environmental, economic and racial equality, youth and criminal justice reform movements talking about the connection between these issues and the need for democracy reforms.
There will be a session on solutions to the challenges we face where we’ll hear from leaders who are winning victories in the fight for voting rights and fair elections and will breakout by state and locality to talk about the top democracy reforms we can win at home. We will also have space to create art and signs for the upcoming Rally and smaller breakout sessions on key issues like DC voting rights and statehood.
12pm-6pm: Art Build
1pm-1:50pm: Kickoff: Voting Rights, Money In Politics United Struggle
For info on specific workshops, go here.
5pm-5:50pm: State/Local Breakout Sessions – Connect with Others & State/Local Plans to Take Home
6pm-6:50pm: Dinner Break
Dinner – food will be available for purchase with vegetarian and meat free options.
7pm-9pm: Non-Violent Direct Action training or movie w/ popcorn
Sunday, April 17 – Rally for Democracy
Get ready to Rally for Democracy and march around the U.S. Capitol. We’re mobilizing en masse to call for solutions that protect the people’s right to vote and prevent our voices from being drowned out by big money. Direct action trainings will follow in the lead up to the Congress of Conscience day of action.
12:30 pm -1:00 pm – Gather at 3rd St. NW in front of the Capitol Reflecting pool between Madison Dr. NW and Jefferson Drive NW
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm – Rally for Democracy
3:00 pm – 4:30 – March from Union Square to Columbus Circle
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm – Faith Event and Vigil
A = Rally location
Monday, April 18 – Congress of Conscience Day of Action
On Monday, April 18th, hundreds will come together for a day of mass civil disobedience to save our democracy. Advocacy and lobbying will occur simultaneously for folks who opt not to engage in non-violent direct action. Together, we’ll gather on Capital Hill to push for a Congress of Conscience — one that stands up for our democracy rather than stands in its way.
Here’s what we’re fighting for:
- Fair consideration of the nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, including timely hearings and a vote by the full Senate.
- The Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 2867, S. 1659), legislation that would restore the protections against voting discrimination that were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in its Shelby County v. Holder decision, and make additional, critical updates to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
- The Voter Empowerment Act (H.R. 12), legislation to modernize voter registration, prevent deceptive practices that keep people from the ballot box and ensure equal access to voting for all.
- The Democracy For All Amendment (H.J.Res. 22, S.J.Res. 5), a constitutional amendment that would overturn U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and allow elected representatives to set commonsense limits on money in elections.
- The Government By the People Act/Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 20 and S. 1538), a small donor empowerment measure that would encourage and amplify small contributions from everyday Americans.
Our reform agenda is aimed at creating a democracy where every voice is heard and every vote counts equally — in other words, a democracy that works for all of us.
When does the rally and march begin?
Music will start at 12:30pm. The rally will begin at 1:00 pm on Sunday, please wear comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing to ensure you are you are able to make your voice heard for the entire rally.
Where do I show up?
The events will take place in front of the U.S. Capitol. Gather at 3rd St. NW in front of the Capitol Reflecting pool between Madison Drive NW and Maryland Ave SW.
The rally will be held at the west front of the United States Capitol (facing the National Mall) and will end at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station (Amtrak train station).
Will there be other events on Sunday?
Yes, after we march around the capitol we will end up in front of Union Station where there will be a Faith Rally and Vigil held from 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Sunday in Columbus Circle.
Be prepared for street theatre, music and prayer as people of faith call for moral action to defend and expand our democracy.
There will also be a non-violent direct action training on Sunday evening for folks interested in taking action on Monday and beyond. Sign up here to participate in that training.
Location of the Faith Event Sunday, April 17th from 4:30 – 5:30pm.
Are there places to eat near the rally and march?
Yes, Union Station is a popular spot for locals and tourists to eat, rest, and relax. The downstairs level of the station has a large food court featuring more than 20 on-the-go and fast-food items with a seating area, restrooms and variety shops. There are informal sit-down restaurants on the ground level and second level. Union Station is about 5-7 blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Additionally, My Brother’s Place, Irish Times, Irish Channel, The Dubliner and numerous restaurants are located within a 1-4 block walk from the march and rally.
What should I bring to the rally?
There will be port-a-potties at the rally site, and as the march will end at Union Station, you will be able to use the bathrooms inside, but you should definitely bring water.
Folks are also encouraged to bring signs. Please keep in mind:
1) Democracy Awakening is a permitted event, meaning that signs, banners, and placards are allowed. All supports for these items must not exceed three quarters (¾) of an inch at their largest point, must have dull ends (not pointy), and made entirely of wood. There can be no nails, screws, or bolt-type fastening devices protruding from the wooden supports. These items may not be used to offer any item for sale, to solicit contributions or contain any form of advertising. Any display of signs, banners, placards, and related items is strictly prohibited inside all Capitol buildings.
For more information: http://www.uscapitolpolice.gov/special_events/guidelines_app_page.pdf_4-29-10
2) There will be an art build where folks can make signs and banners for the march. Stay tuned for more info on where the art build will be happening.
What accommodations are there to make the Rally for Democracy accessible for everyone?
The organizers of Democracy Awakening are working to ensure everyone is able to participate fully in our event. We are taking the following steps:
1) The front left area between the stage and the press riser will be reserved for folks with accessibility needs. We will be providing folding chairs for those who need them, but everyone is welcome to bring their own.
2) Due to Capitol Police regulations, we can not have a van follow the march to Union Station. A volunteer will be at the front left side of the stage following the rally to help those who can not march get to Union Station.
3) We will have sign language translation occurring during the event on the stage in front of the U.S. Capitol on 3rd st. NW between Madison and Jefferson Streets.
4) We will have Spanish translation available by request. Please check in with the accessibility volunteer at the front left of the stage to receive a headphone set.
If you have any other needs around accessibility please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to accommodate you.
What is the best way to get to the rally?
If you are coming from the D.C. area, the best way to get to the march is to take the Metro train that is closest to you. A map of the Metro system can be viewed here. You can find a full list of getting around the D.C. area here.
The closest Metro stop for the march and rally are Union Station, which is a 15 minute walk (Red Line). You can also walk 15 minutes from L’Enfant Plaza (Green and Yellow Line) or 10 minutes from Federal Center SW (Blue/Orange/Silver Line).
A=Location of the Rally
What if I am coming on a bus from out of town?
Many people are coming from out of town on pre-arranged buses. Find and hop on a bus coming from your area here. The buses will drop you off at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station train station, which is 4-5 blocks to the north of the rally area.
Here is a recommended walking route from Union Station to the Rally for Democracy site:
What if I plan to drive to the rally?
We encourage folks to take the metro to the rally – Google Maps or www.wmata.com can help you plan your route. That said, there is open street parking on Saturday and Sunday all along the national mall and in some parts of Capitol Hill (meaning, no meters) so you can attempt to find a place to park. But pay special attention and read the sidewalk parking signs.
As it is high tourism season (think spring in DC, cherry blossoms), it is highly unlikely you will be able to get anywhere close to the start of the rally. The closest parking garage is Union Station, where the march will be ending. You can walk or take a cab from Union Station to the rally site.
Where should cars, vans and buses park?
The Greenbelt Metro and Union Station are best for bus parking. To park at Union Station, bus captains (or the driver) will need to reserve the parking spot ahead of time, and there are a limited number of bus parking spots in general. More information on that here.
If you are coming in a van or a car, you won’t be able to park on the street near St. Stephens Church where folks are staying as it’s zoned 2 hour parking. You can either park in the DCUSA parking garage a few blocks away (on park road between 14th and 16th street NW), or on the street a mile away from St Stephens church. We suggest driving north of the church on 16th and looking for parking on side streets like Allison, Buchanen, Crittendon, etc between 16th and Georgia Avenue.
I hear there might be a risk of arrest if I participate - is that true?
Yes. We know that by taking part in non-violent direct action, we may be risking arrest, and we will prepare for those situations during training. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to risk arrest to stand up against injustice, but we’re asking you to join us in this mass day of action because fulfilling the promise of a democracy that works for all of us is too important to be complacent.
What exactly will I be doing if I choose to participate?
For security reasons, we are keeping details about the non-violent direct action purposefully vague, but if you’d like to risk arrest, you will have the option of peacefully sitting-in in a significant location for our democracy.
How will we prepare for the action?
We are hosting Non-violent Direct Action trainings on Saturday afternoon, Sunday evening and Monday morning. Please plan to attend a training if you are planning to risk arrest. Sign up here.
What should I bring with me to the action?
You should bring your ID, any prescription medications you need on a regular basis, and possibly money for a post & forfeit fine.
What will my likely charges be if I am arrested?
There are a number of misdemeanors under both D.C. and federal law that could apply. These include:
1) Unlawful Entry – Even though we will be in a public place, refusal to leave after having been requested to do so by a person in charge could result in an unlawful entry charge.
2) Unlawful Assembly – This can be charged for assembling “in any street … or in or around any public building …” to “engage in loud and boisterous talking or other disorderly conduct … or to crowd, obstruct … the free use of any such street … or the free entrance into any public or private building …”
3) Disorderly Conduct – This can be charged when, among other things, one breaches the peace by acting in a manner “as to annoy, disturb, interfere with or be offensive to others” or when one “congregates with others on a public street and refuses to move on when ordered by the police”.
What happens if I am asked to leave while sitting in, but refuse to do so?
If you do not leave after being asked to do so by law enforcement authorities, you could be placed under arrest for a misdemeanor or a citation. A misdemeanor is not a felony, but it can result in jail time and a criminal record, as well as at least a couple of court appearances in D.C.
If arrested, will I be held overnight?
In all likelihood, if arrested, you will be released on the same day after 5-8 hours of processing (fingerprinting, etc.) at the jail, although it’s always possible you could be held overnight and be seen by a judge the following morning. The longest you can legally be held in DC before being charged is 72 hours, but this rarely happens.
Depending on the charges, you may be eligible to resolve everything on the day of arrest with “post and forfeit”. This means that you are paying a fine (usually $50-$100) and giving up your right to defend against the charges in court, but you will not have a conviction on your record (although there would still be a record of the arrest). If you are not given a post and forfeit, in all likelihood, you will be given a citation release (“released on your own recognizance”, rather than with a cash bond) and a future date (about 3-4 weeks) to return to DC Superior Court for an arraignment where formal charges will be brought against you. You MAY be held overnight to see the judge the next day to set bail and other terms for your release, especially if you are not from the Washington, DC area. It is impossible to predict how authorities might react.
If not offered a Post and Forfeit, is there another way my case may be resolved without going to trial and without resulting in a criminal record?
Yes, prosecutors can decide to drop the charges or offer you a “diversion agreement”. If you meet the terms of the agreement, which would likely include paying a fine, completing community service, a promise to stay away from the site of the arrest and no further arrests, all within a certain period of time (usually six months), the charges against you would be dismissed with NO criminal conviction on your record.
Is there a way to participate that won’t put me at risk of arrest?
We are planning ways for folks to participate at all levels. Lobbying on Capitol Hill will be happening simultaneously on Monday, and you can sign up to take part in that effort by checking the “Lobbying on Capitol Hill” check-box here. We will also need volunteers to act as support folks, legal observers, and more. Please sign up for one of the NVDA trainings to learn more about the different roles.
How many people can participate?
The more, the merrier!
Do I have to attend a Non-violent Direct Action training to participate?
Yes – we are offering trainings on Saturday afternoon, Sunday evening and Monday morning. Sign up here.
What if I have pending charges from another direct action?
We are asking folks who have pending charges to not risk arrest. Having pending charges will force you to have to go to trial and we are not able to offer support for those who have to go to trial.
What if I don’t have the funds to cover the legal fines?
We’re working out options for financial assistance for people who would otherwise be unable to participate due to lack of funds to cover the legal fines. Check back soon for more details, and in the meantime, direct any questions to email@example.com.
I’m under 18 - can I participate in risking arrest?
We do not recommend risking arrest if you are under 18. There are plenty of other important roles that we would be happy to plug you into!
I am undocumented - can I participate by risking arrest?
We do not recommend risking arrest if you are undocumented. There are plenty of other important roles that we would be happy to plug you into!
What social events are planned during the Awakening?
Friday, April 15th
7pm-9pm: Double Feature Film Screening
Join us for pizza and a double feature of Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes and Free For All: One Dude’s Quest to Save our Elections. These are two highly acclaimed, fun films that are on point about the problems we are facing with our money overpowering our democracy and electoral system. Both film offer viable solutions that will help prepare us for the weekend of action. The films will also be followed up with Q&As with the filmmakers. This is a joint event with Democracy Spring. Please go here to RSVP.
Saturday, April 17th
7pm-9pm: Film Screening
Join us for a screening of Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA, a film that tells the stories of how guns, and the billions made off of them, affect the lives of everyday Americans. It features personal stories from people across the country who have been affected by gun violence, including survivors and victims’ families. The film exposes how the powerful gun companies and the NRA are resisting responsible legislation for the sake of profit – and thereby putting people in danger.
WHERE: All Souls Church Unitarian, 1500 Harvard Street NW, Washington DC 20009-4290
9pm-12 am: After Party
Join us for a Democracy Awakening after party featuring music by Northeast Corridor, D.C.’s hottest cover band and #1 live karaoke band, and comedy by D.C. comedians Max Wolfson, Kevin Tit, Matt Dundas, Kasha Patel and Dee Ahmed.
*Plus a special performance by comedian Lee Camp, host of Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp on RT America.
Are the Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring events coordinated?
In April, Americans from around the country will converge on Washington, D.C., to press Congress to pass reforms essential to ensuring a nation where everyone can cast a vote that counts and the power of people’s voices is not measured by the size of their wallet. Our goal is to mobilize the public, define the national debate, and highlight the intersection between barriers to democracy and the serious problems facing our nation, thereby connecting us in our struggle for justice and for a living wage on a living planet. This historic mobilization, uniting the fight to protect and expand our right to vote with the urgent necessity of getting big money out of our elections, will unfold in two phases.
Democracy Spring will launch on April 2 with a 10-day march from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. Upon arrival on April 11, participants will undertake civil disobedience at a historic scale in mass nonviolent sit-ins at the U.S. Capitol throughout the week, culminating on April 16. Democracy Awakening will begin on Saturday, April 16, with teach-ins, concerts and cultural events. Then on Sunday, April 17, there will be a mass rally and march for democracy at the U.S. Capitol. The mobilization will culminate on April 18 with large-scale nonviolent direct action at the U.S. Capitol, and a day of advocacy, demanding a Congress of Conscience that recognizes its moral responsibility to ensure a democracy that works for all of us so that we have a government that is of, by and for the People.
Each phase of the mobilization is being organized by separate coalitions of organizations, working collaboratively and with coordinated demands, that will take an already robust democracy movement to new heights.