Monsanto protest in DC part of “Shutdown the Corporations”

Occupy DC took to the streets early this morning, participating in a coordinated protest against a right-wing corporate coalition with undue influence on legislation. Occupy Portland initiated the action, called Shut Down the Corporations, and claimed that as many as 90 protests took place today around the world.

The target was the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC drafts “model legislation” to benefit its members–multinational corporations such as ExxonMobil, Bank of America, BP, Monsanto, Pfizer, and Wal-Mart–hands it to legislators, who then write it into bills as is. It’s known for a right-wing agenda, for example, writing the strictest anti-immigration legislation in the country (SB 1070 in Arizona) and proposals in 38 states to undermine the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

Fabian, a Freedom Plaza Occupier, stated his objection to ALEC: “They are a group who ghostwrites legislation, that favors corporations and subjugates humanity, where their interests are directly working against the interests of the people. They have no place in America.”

DC Occupiers headed down Vermont Avenue, stopping by ALEC’s headquarters to deliver a mic check, then proceeded to the offices of Monsanto on I Street, where they rushed the doors. Police and protestors got into a shoving match as they tried to push large wooden signs into the lobby. Police arrested 12 people after demonstrators lined up in front of the building in the pouring rain and barred entry for more than an hour.

Many protestors cited their objection to Monsanto’s involvement in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and patenting of seeds. Earlier this month, Monsanto won a dismissal of a lawsuit brought by organic growers who are afraid of GMOs contaminating their crops.

Monsanto Director of Corporate Affairs Tom Helscher issued a statement concerning the protest group: “We believe farmers should have the opportunity to select the production method of their choice and all of the production systems contribute to meeting the needs of consumers.”

After police broke up the protest in front of Monsanto’s offices, demonstrators moved on to Pfizer and plan to go to a Wal-Mart construction site and the Capital Grille, which is part of the Darden Restaurants.

View more photos here.

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