Last week a 61 year old mailman from Florida named Doug Hughes, flew around Washington D.C. in restricted airspace with 535 letters addressed to Congress strapped onto his landing gear. His brazen attempt to get Congress to act on campaign finance reform was almost three years in the making. Hughes carefully planned his act of dissent and thought about every possible angle:
Onlookers and police were stunned by the flying bicyclist. He landed near the U.S. Capitol and was arrested without incident. Hughes had hoped that his stunt would galvanize millions of Americans and give Congress a wake-up call. Mr. Hughes strongly believes that the Citizens United Act is a danger to our representative democracy, corrupting our politicians with special interests and making it harder for them to do the work of the American people. A 2013 Gallup poll revealed that over 70% of Millennials support campaign finance reform, including overruling the 2010 decision by the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately for Mr. Hughes, his defiant act was not received the way he would of liked. Instead of addressing the issues Hughes was trying to convey about campaign finance reform, Congress immediately orchestrated a briefing behind closed doors with various agencies, including the Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police. The FAA and two other agencies did not show up for the initial briefing. The panel is scheduled to have their first hearing later this week on Apr. 29th, to discuss how Doug Hughes was able to violate restricted airspace and why members of Congress were not alerted beforehand. Although Doug Hughes stated that he notified all proper channels and posted videos online explaining his intentions, he still violated Federal law when he landed near the U.S. Capitol. Hughes was charged with violating restricted airspace and operating an unregistered aircraft, his next court appearance is on May 8th.
As Congress gets ready to grill the FAA and the U.S. Capitol Police on security measures, it has been revealed that multiple weapons were pointed at Doug Hughes throughout the entire incident and that authorities made a judgment call regarding the safety of the Capitol. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., has stated that law enforcement needs a “wake-up call” and that this incident needs to be investigated vigorously to “make things better”.
With Congress ignoring the reasons why Doug Hughes violated restricted airspace, it is clear as to why Americans under 30 are increasingly cynical and less trusting of a government that does not address the real issues that affect everyday Americans. The 61 year old man who claims to be “just a mailman” has garnered support online
Support for the 61 year old man who claims to be “just a mailman” is overwhelmingly positive with thousands of tweets endorsing the message of campaign finance reform, a few of which can be found here:
This article was written by Alexa Antonaras, a writer for dusk magazine.