Protesters surge onto the steps of the Supreme Court late Tuesday as part of their "Occupy Congress" day of action in the nation's capital.
Protesters stormed onto the steps of the Supreme Court to decry corporate personhood, left handwritten messages on cards on a White House fence for the president and met with their lawmakers -- wrapping up a day of action primarily focused on American's disillusion with the legislative branch.
On the West Lawn in front of Congress on Tuesday, they held group talks on national protest planning and networking among Occupy outfits, a general assembly, and the Occupy Wall Street Think Tank led a discussion on the question, "What does democracy look like?"
The numbers were lower than the expected thousands, but more people streamed in toward day's end, when a march -- accompanied by chanting of slogans and the beating of drums and shaking of tambourines -- left from the Capitol for the high court and the White House, spinning through the D.C. streets with police clearing the way for what appeared to be between 1,000 and 2,000 demonstrators.
One of the disappointing aspects was the limited presence of congressional representatives, said Mario Lozada, a 25-year-old immigration lawyer from Philadelphia.
"We came here really for that dialogue ... to speak with our representatives, to make our presence known," he said. "We all have that same sentiment that our elected officials are not representing us" and that it was a corrupt system with corporate money "drowning out our voices."
The rain and timing on a work day may have affected turnout, but they were still pleased with the numbers, he added.
Christopher Seerden, 30, who traveled by train from Santa Cruz and wore a tent in solidarity with Occupy Melbourne, said he was there to let the government know that they were done with corporate greed.
"My family lost their dream home due to the banks screwing them over. So I'm here helping my family in solidarity," he said, as protesters chanted, "Whose streets, our streets." "I wish there were a million people here but this'll work ... I think it's still a good message to bring out on the first day of Congress in session."
PhotoBlog, December 6: Demonstrators from 46 states 'Take Back the Capitol'
The protesters then surged onto the court steps, filling them, waving flags and signs, chanting, "'the people united will never be defeated," and "money is not speech" in reference to the landmark Supreme Court decision affirming corporate personhood and money as speech, known as Citizens United, and which marks its second anniversary on Saturday.
As they cascaded down Constitution Avenue, protesters cheered as they passed by a building bearing large text of the first amendment, with some stopping to read it out loud. Reflecting on her time in D.C., Kelsey James, an 18-year-old protester from Reno, said it had been an intense experience.
"I've been moved deeply by seeing everybody unite and I thought that coming to our nation's capital to speak was very important," said James, noting that she had a positive experience with a Florida lawmaker she met Tuesday who had encouraged her to participate in the political process.
Near the end of the route was the White House, where protesters crafted messages for Obama on multi-colored heart-shaped cards and attached them to the fence with string. Other protesters formed a circle and meditated, while yet others chanted, "N-D-A-A, we say no way," referring to the controversial legislation that allows for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens accused of being terrorists.
Preparing for the six-hour bus trip back to Greensboro, N.C., 65-year-old Cynthia Maddox, an accountant for small business who handles income taxes, said the day had given her hope.
"It's just that there's this whole generation that's come up and taken things into their own hands," she said, as protesters chanted, "We want progress, Occupy Congress."
Read previous posts on the protest: