Democrats' gun control sit-in moves to Periscope after C-SPAN feed is cut

Politicians take to social media after TV feed from their House floor protest goes dark

screenshot 20160622 125849

A Periscope feed of a Democrat protest in the House of Representatives on June 22, 2016.

Credit: Martyn Williams

In scenes associated more with dictatorships than the U.S., politicians in the House of Representatives took to Twitter and Periscope on Wednesday to evade a TV blackout of a sit-in held to push forward new gun legislation.

Trouble started when House Democrats, led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, started their protest. It came just over a week after a gunman killed 49 people at a Florida nightclub and two days after four gun control bills were voted down by Republicans in the Senate.

Asked for order on the floor, the Democrats refused to budge, and so the House went into recess.

The cameras in the House are controlled by the Republican majority, and the signals are provided to broadcasters for their use. C-SPAN, a channel owned by cable and satellite operators, typically carries the signal live, and when the House went into recess, the feed from the floor went black.

That immediately sparked accusations of censorship, and C-SPAN was quick to point out that it had no control over the feed.

Frustrated that their protest was not being seen by the American public, the politicians began providing updates on Twitter.

Some, including Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, posted images that were no longer being seen on television.

Later, the TV network picked up a Periscope feed that was being broadcast from the House floor, restoring its coverage. At least two politicians were broadcasting live on the platform and being watched by thousands of viewers.

screenshot 20160622 125111 Martyn Williams

Periscope streams of a Democrat sit-in in the House of Representatives on June 22, 2016

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