New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman arrested outside US Capitol during voting rights protest – USA TODAY

10184db8 728a 40cf a954 a1e4a6c5ea0a VPC VOTING BILL FAILS SOT DESK THUMB

play

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., was arrested outside the U.S. Capitol building on Thursday during a protest over voting rights, according to his office.

U.S. Capitol Police arrested Bowman along with nearly 30 other demonstrators that have been on a hunger strike in support of voting legislation, said Marcus Frias, Bowman’s director of communications in a short statement.

Frias said Bowman was participating in a non-violent action at the North Barricade of the Capitol building.

The arrests came after Senate Democrats failed to pass a voting rights bill Wednesday night that the House already passed. Senators also failed to change filibuster rules to pass the bill with a simple majority. 

Politics: Senate Democrats fail to advance voting rights legislation and changes to filibuster

Washington: Sen. Mark Kelly supports change to Senate filibuster rule for voting rights legislation

Bowman was released Thursday afternoon, his office told The Journal News. Frias said Bowman was the only House member arrested. 

On Twitter, police said demonstrators began blocking one side of the North Barricade outside the Capitol just before noon. There, officers issued three warnings and demonstrators refused to get out of the way, so officers made arrests, the tweet said.

In total, Capitol police tweeted officers arrested 27 people accused of crowding, obstructing or incommoding, and one for allegedly violating crowd control laws.

Bowman’s office released photos and a video of Bowman being arrested Thursday afternoon. 

Markus Batchelor, the deputy director for leadership programs at the advocacy organization People for the American Way, recorded Bowman’s arrest and posted it to Twitter.

In a phone interview just 40 minutes after he and others, including Bowman, were released, Batchelor said he and other demonstrators sat and blocked the driveway Thursday morning in an act of civil disobedience after the Senate failed to pass the voting right bill Wednesday night.

Bowman happened upon the group, Batchelor said, and initially talked to Capitol officers before crossing the police line to greet protestors. An officer then handcuffed the congressman, said Batchelor. 

Batchelor remained undeterred in pushing for voting rights.

“We’ll persist,” he said. “All of this has stops and starts. If you look at this grand arc of history, history is on our side. We’ll win.”

Social media posts on Bowman’s Twitter account showed him on Wednesday outside the steps of the Capitol with other protestors with a banner reading “HUNGER STRIKE 4 DEMOCRACY.” In one post, Bowman said he joined protestors in reading off 33 bills that civil rights advocates say restrict voting rights across the U.S.

Bowman is serving his first term in office after ousting former longtime congressman Eliot Engel in a Democratic primary in 2020. Bowman is one the more progressive members in Congress. 

Along with Bowman, who is Black, other members of the Congressional Black Caucus have recently been arrested at protests in support of voting rights.

In August, Rep. Al Green, of Texas, was arrested outside the Capitol and Supreme Court. A month earlier, representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, of Texas, Hank Johnson, of Georgia, and Joyce Beatty, of Ohio, who chairs the Black Caucus, were also all arrested at separate protests outside the Capitol.

On the House floor Thursday, House Democrat Mondaire Jones, also in his first term, spoke in support of passing the voting rights bill, calling this era the worst assault on enfranchisement since Jim Crow.

Referring to senators who opposed the bill via the filibuster as white nationalists, he said the fight would continue.

“We, the people, aren’t giving up that easy,” Jones said. “We never give up.”

David Propper covers Westchester County. Reach him at dpropper@lohud.com and follow him on Twitter: dg_props.

Eduardo Cuevas covers diversity, equity and inclusion in Westchester and Rockland counties. He can be reached at EMCuevas1@lohud.com and followed on Twitter @eduardomcuevas.