by Eleanor Goldfield

Today across the country people showed up at Verizon stores to protest the selling off of our open internet to big Telecoms. Several protests included marches to Congressional offices to demand that Congress stop the FCC vote happening next Thursday, December 14th. The day of action, organized by a Team Internet coalition, highlighted the fact that the FCC is in fact a corporately owned entity.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai is a former Verizon lawyer and thanks to the revolving door is now using his chairmanship at the FCC to hand our free speech over to be hacked up into toll roads and slow lanes – all in the name of corporate profit.

Here in Washington, DC there was a special dinner held at the Hilton for Telecom CEOs, lobbyists and you guessed it, FCC chairman Ajit Pai. A few days ago he gave a speech at a Verizon event. His brash disregard for the wishes of the people has been and continues to be remarkable. And we wanted to make sure his corporate cronies heard and saw our feelings on the matter, not to mention passersby in rush hour traffic.

Roughly 60 people stood outside the Hilton with signs and posters while a giant projection lit up a hotel wall across busy Connecticut Avenue. Organizers led the group in chants and asked people to come up and share their reasons for being at the event. The wide array of stories showcased the far-reaching and diverse importance of an open and accessible net. One protestor shared their story of coming out and feeling ostracized and isolated until they found an online community for support and engagement. Another protestor shared his story of coming from another country and using the internet not only to connect to family far away but to engage with his new community here. Yet another protestor spoke of living in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the terrifying ease with which the government turned on and off internet access there. His sentiments were echoed by another man who spoke passionately about how no free society can possibly exist without free speech, which the internet provides.

For a livestream video of the action, click here .

The next step is a march next Wednesday followed by an overnight vigil outside the FCC which will in turn be followed by an early morning action at the FCC on the morning of the vote.

For more information, visit Protect Our Internet and sign up for updates.

Also, follow via Facebook and Twitter.

All images below may be shared and posted. Please credit Eleanor Goldfield/Art Killing Apathy.

Click on image to enlarge.