A man was arrested earlier today (April 15) for landing a gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
Doug Hughes, a mailman from Ruskin, Florida, wanted to deliver a campaign for financial reform directly to the Capitol, a plan he’s apparently had for about a year now.
Witnesses told the Tampa Bay Times that as soon as Hughes landed, Capitol Police surrounded him and put him in handcuffs; he surrendered without a fight. The building was put into lockdown for a brief period of time.
Bystanders were moved to a safe distance, about a block from the building, as trained dogs inspected the gyrocopter and officials ensured there were no explosive devices.
A friend reported the 61-year-old last year, claiming Hughes was planning to “commit a daring act of civil disobedience,” prompting a visit from the Secret Service. Hughes said he was questioned on two separate occasions by an agent.
The Secret Service hasn’t confirmed that visit because Hughes was not arrested at the time.
Hughes wrote 535 letters, each two pages long and addressed to a member of Congress, about his goals with this daring act of protest:
“I’m demanding reform and declaring a voter’s rebellion in a manner consistent with Jefferson’s description of rights in the Declaration of Independence. As a member of Congress, you have three options. 1. You may pretend corruption does not exist. 2. You may pretend to oppose corruption while you sabotage reform. 3. You may actively participate in real reform.”
…There will be discussion about the structure and details of reform. As I see it, campaign finance reform is the cornerstone of building an honest Congress. Erect a wall of separation between our elected officials and big money. This you must do — or your replacement will do. A corporation is not ‘people’ and no individual should be allowed to spend hundreds of millions to ‘influence’ an election. That much money is a megaphone which drowns out the voices of ‘We the People.’ Next, a retired member of Congress has a lifelong obligation to avoid the appearance of impropriety. That almost half the retired members of Congress work as lobbyists and make millions of dollars per year smells like bribery, however legal. It must end. Pass real campaign finance reform and prohibit even the appearance of payola after retirement and you will be part of a Congress I can respect.”
The airspace above the Capitol is restricted to official aircraft only.
According to Michael McCaul, homeland security committee chairman, if Hughes had gotten closer to the building, officials were prepared to shoot him down.