Occupy DC said 12 of its members were arrested Wednesday while protesting outside the offices of agriculture giant Monsanto as part of a national day to "shut down the corporations."
The group was protesting in solidarity with Occupy Portland, which called for a national day of action to shut down corporations with ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council. According to Occupy Portland's Call to Action statement, ALEC "is a prime example of the way corporations buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of corporations and not people."
D.C. Police Officer William Farr said early Wednesday that about 50 people came to Monsanto's offices at 13th and I streets and tried to block off the doors. Farr said that the protesters were on public space and that people who work in the building were able to enter it.
But later, protesters blocked the doors to the building – forming a line around all entrances – and scuffled with police outside, Occupiers said on Twitter. Police threatened demonstrators with arrest if they did not move from the doors, eventually taking a dozen protesters into custody, Occupiers said. Ten were arrested for blocking the entrance. Two others were charged with crossing a police line. Among the arrested was an American University student conducting a survey on police brutality, they said.
Protesters chanted phrases including "Monsanto and ALEC, corporations are making us sick." Some protesters were holding signs, one of which read, “Stop Corporations.”
Occupier Brian Eister said the group arrived at the building around 7:20 a.m. Wednesday. He said the group chose to protest outside of Monsanto, the agriculture and biotechnological giant that protesters said "is doing more to make a sustainable world impossible than almost any corporation on the planet."
Updated: Monsanto Director of Corporate Affairs Tom Helscher issued a statement concerning the protest group.
"We respect each individual's right to express his or her point of view. Agriculture and its uses are important to all of us. We understand that no single company or method of agricultural production can address food production needs individually. 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."