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The Rolling Rebellion: People Declare Independence from Corporate Rule

For more than 10 years, Backbone Campaign has built, painted, sculpted, marched, organized, trained and occupied in the name of “human rights, thriving communities and ecological wellbeing.” The group's mission is, as it puts it, “artful activism” – and you may have seen some of it projected onto banks and government buildings or embodied in large scale installations, from a gigantic “28th amendment” banner to overpass light brigades, corporate costumes and paper mache puppets.

Now, in the spirit of 4th of July, Backbone Campaign is fusing its creative platform with a national week of direct action “fighting nothing less than a non-violent, second American Revolution,” says its co-founder and executive director Bill Moyer.

Between July 5 and July 12, the group is working with other activist organizations nationwide launching the latest stage in the fight to rid corporate money from the political process. It's called the Rolling Rebellion and it is sweeping coast to coast to a city near you. In the spirit of the Occupy movement – in which [it played an artful and organizing role – Backbone Campaign isn't concretely directing any of the national actions but is giving to each event the tools and inspiration to create their own impacting message.

“We hope our effort simply catalyzes a sense of belonging to a movement and provides some additional tactical capacity to those who want it,” says Moyer. “Rolling Rebellion is an acknowledgement and celebration of what is organically occurring – it is not a static but a dynamic phenomenon, by autonomous communities of action, increasingly connected to each other, but not centrally directed.”

Kevin Zeese, an organizer with Popular Resistance – which along with Move to Amend, Occupy.com and other groups is partnering in the Rebellion – echoes Moyer. “Our movement is diverse, but we all agree that a crisis of Democracy is at the root of our problems and it’s time to solve it. Inspired by America’s revolutionary roots we’re using creativity to escalate the campaign for Real Democracy.”

Collaborating with local organizations and activists across the country, Rolling Rebellion uses grassroots, artful tactics of political activism to advance the growing call of Americans to get money out of politics. No two events are the same. But by providing signs, lights, songs and costumes to actions across the country, Backbone Campaign aims to create a visual – and shareable – trend reflecting the public's outrage about a government ruled by corporate money.

One event this week helped kick off the Rebellion a few days early: a picket and street theater performance outside the Federal Communications Commission building in Washington, DC, entitled “Which Side Are You On, Tom?”, which called on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to enshrine net neutrality in law and resist corporate pressure to create a two-tiered Internet.

Coming up this week in New York City, a giant Monopoly Man will star in a street theater performance on Wall Street where he will be “met and challenged by We The People.”

Across the country in Seattle, activists will gather at the Westin Hotel to protest the Uniform Law Conference, what the Rolling Rebellion refers to as “a national organization of non-elected attorneys drafting state law proposals, specifically [the] 'Home Foreclosure Procedures Act.'” And in collaboration with Occupy Venice in Los Angeles, the band Rooftop Revolutionaries, comedian Lee Camp and political poets will host a downtown performance raising awareness on money-corrupted political issues ranging from net neutrality to homelessness to fracking.

You can find more events listed on Rolling Rebellion's Actions page, and if you don't see one in your area, the invitation is clear: create your own! The site offers tools, instructions and support to launch your own action – from DIY overpass banners and paper mache puppets to light brigades and “101” courses in light projection and bird-dogging.

There are additional suggestions on creative actions such as dramatic readings of the Constitution; showing a public video on corporate personhood, and a how-to on throwing a We the People house party. There's also an activist toolkit that outlines how to step up your grassroots outreach, from running an effective meeting to defending your legal rights to protest.

Whether you create your own pin on the Rolling Rebellion map or join an action that's already planned, there is something for everyone in this movement – because everyone, everywhere, is impacted by the influence of corporate money on our democracy. Some have made great strides to put the issue at the forefront of public debate, like the marchers of 99Rise who walked nearly 500 miles from L.A. to Sacramento and endured dozens of arrests last month to get lawmakers to act.

As you celebrate Independence Day this July 4th and beyond, remember we are a nation still in progress, one which cannot sit back on a 238-year old revolution and expect our freedoms to persist without new demands. To be an American is to be a fighter, a dissenter, a revolutionary. The Occupy movement showed what is possible when people, everywhere, suddenly, decide to act. It's time to rise to the occasion in a new chapter of resistance. The Rebellion is Rolling. Climb aboard.

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