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A Net Neutrality Jumbotron Delivers a Message the FCC Couldn't Miss

Just after dark on Thursday night in Washington, Free Press parked a Jumbotron right outside the swanky hotel hosting a dinner and roast honoring FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

The huge screen outside the so-called “Telecom Prom” featured a song pleading with the FCC to protect the open Internet — part of a video montage that played for hours. The program included President Obama’s historic video statement endorsing Net Neutrality, homemade YouTube videos, images from rallies, and testimonials from public hearings that Wheeler and his colleagues declined to attend.

Since the commissioners have ignored repeated invitations from Free Press and our allies to meet with the public, we decided to bring the public to them. The images were visible to everyone in the neighborhood, and the sound could be heard for blocks; hundreds of industry lawyers, lobbyists and congressional staffers on their way to the dinner couldn’t miss the show. Pedestrians and motorists also passed by the busy intersection on Connecticut Avenue, where members of Free Press and Popular Resistance held lights spelling out “Save the Net.”

Many commuters stopped to check out the giant TV screen, ask questions and voice their support for Net Neutrality.

Throughout the broadcast,  it was clear that the right to connect and communicate online is vital to so many people’s lives — and that the public expects the FCC to do its job and keep the Internet free from corporate and government control.

Check out the full video of everything that played on the Jumbotron.

While all of this was going on, a stream of pro-Net Neutrality tweets flooded Twitter. Here’s a sampling:

Millions of people around the country have spoken out for the Internet they love. Despite this public outcry and support from many political leaders, Chairman Wheeler has delayed a vote on new rules and hasn’t disclosed when the new vote will happen.

Maybe he’s hoping the public scrutiny will fade if he stalls long enough. But after seeing the response to the Jumbotron from people on the street, it’s clear the public isn’t going anywhere.

On Thurs., Dec. 11, Free Press members, allies and local Net Neutrality supporters will rally outside the FCC’s final public meeting of the year. To hammer home our message, we’re going to have magnifying glasses and oversized specs to ensure Wheeler knows we’re watching him. Join us.

Check out our Storify for some highlights — and share these videos:

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