ATLANTA (AP) — A suburban Atlanta congressman was among nine people arrested Thursday for blocking the door of a Senate office building in Washington while protesting inaction on Democratic voting law proposals.
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Lithonia Democrat, said in a statement after his arrest that he was protesting "Senate inaction on voting rights legislation & filibuster reform. In the spirit of my dear friend and mentor – the late Congressman John Lewis – I was getting in good trouble.”
A number of members of the Congressional Black Caucus had spoken at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court urging Congress to change filibuster rules that allow a minority of 41 or more senators to block legislation. They say such changes were needed to pass laws creating nationwide standards to mandate early voting and automatic voter registration, limit gerrymandering and put back in place reviews of voting rules in areas with a history of discrimination. Congressional Republicans oppose the proposals.
Johnson and others later marched to the Senate office building. U.S. Capitol Police confirmed they arrested two men and seven women. The statement from Capitol Police said demonstrators were arrested for “illegal demonstration activity” after being warned three times to stop. Demonstrators often seek to be arrested on U.S. Capitol grounds as part of civil disobedience actions.
Video posted online shows the demonstrators blocking a door while chanting “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! The filibuster has got to go!” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Francys Johnson, the former head of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP, was also among those taken into custody.