April 27th, 2009
04:51 PM ET
10 years ago

U.S. lawmakers arrested in Darfur protest at Sudan embassy

Rep. John Lewis faces a misdemeanor charge of trespassing.

Rep. John Lewis faces a misdemeanor charge of trespassing.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Five members of Congress were among those arrested Monday outside the Embassy of Sudan for crossing a police line during a demonstration against genocide in Darfur.

"You have to find a way to dramatize an issue," Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) told CNN as he was led away in handcuffs.

The other U.S. lawmakers who were arrested during the protest are Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), Donna Edwards (D-Maryland), Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), and Lynn Woolsey (D-California).

Lewis faces a misdemeanor charge of trespassing, after he refused three warnings from police to stay behind a barricade established toprotect the diplomatic compound located along Washington's Embassy Row.

A champion of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Lewis said the U.S. cannot afford to wait for Sudan to settle ethnic conflict and massive killings that the State Department has characterized as genocide.

As he was lined up with seven other people to be loaded into a prisoner transport vehicle, Lewis said "this is another step toward helping to free the children of Darfur and put an end to the genocide, to the violence; crimes against humanity."

A CNN reporter asked Lewis whether his arrest would make a difference, and Lewis replied "it is my hope and my prayer that it will." Police then moved him toward a van, and removed his shoelaces and belt as part of standard precautions with prisoner transport.

Activist Rev. David Saperstein and two organizers of the protestrally were also placed in handcuffs. The group was to be processed at a city police precinct and likely released on their promise to appear incourt.

About 50 demonstrators, including those arrested, gathered on a sidewalk outside Sudan's embassy, where police had already set up a yellow-tape barricade.

CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


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soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Larry

    What, no republican lawmakers were arrested. Oh yeah, the republicans are all pendayhoes.

    April 27, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. Obama Fo Yo Mama

    Dang. I thought the article was going to be about how some of those crooks got arrested for ripping off the American taxpayer. Oh well, maybe next time.

    April 27, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. Phil Craven

    Well its a start. Please keep them. We have no use for them. If you think your government is screwed up now, let them help you with it.

    April 27, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. angrysob in VA

    Maybe they should protest in front of the UN next time. The UN has been worthless in Darfur.

    April 27, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Harold Mitnick

    One thing is for sure. You will NEVER see a Republican get arrested for trying to protect someone's rights.

    April 27, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. Mike

    I notice there are no (R)'s in this crowd. Is that because the people in Darfur are 1) black & 2) poor?

    The unconnected and disinfranchised certainly have suffered while the (R)'s were in charge.

    April 27, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Politically Speaking

    Notice they were all Democrats. Imagine a Republican getting arrested over some Africans in Darfur.

    I hope this brings even more attention to the tragedies in that region.

    April 27, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. Dev S.

    There may be a Sudanese embassy, but is there really a "government" in Sudan??

    The embassy is just a hollow symbol of the Sudan government. But a bold step by the congressmen nonetheless.

    April 27, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. John

    Rene, I think it's Sudan's Embassy here in the US and not in Sudan. So, they are safe.

    April 27, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. Perry is anti-American

    Appears like the police is an armed wing of the Republicans. Not a single Republican was arrested!

    April 27, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Alan in SD

    Excellent job Congressman Lewis. I am sure this helped to bring more attention to the genocides. More so than if you had not been arrested with the other congressmen. You said that the US cannot afford to wait for Sudan to sort out the violence. I think thats exactly where the problem lies. They can afford to wait because they dont seem to see anything to gain or lose from the stability in Sudan. I am afraid that unless they start developing Nukes, the lawmakers will continue to turn a blind eye to one of the poorest regions in the world.

    April 27, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. vernah petersen

    I think the U.S. lawmakers should not try to attempt to do it themself but to go to diplomatic dialogue instead, you just can't bark other countries who are in the tormoil situations, That is just my approach..

    April 27, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. Grammar Police

    They weren't arrested "in Darfur" so how about making the headline a bit more clear... Something like: "U.S. lawmakers arrested during Darfur protest at Sudan embassy in Washington D.C."

    Your current headline makes it sound like they were arrested in Darfur and are now protesting at the Sudan embassy about the arrest...

    April 27, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. david bluestein

    yes. i'm sure this will help tremendously. jeesh!

    April 27, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  15. Simmy

    Stand for nothing and you'll fall for anything.....Best to Rep. Lewis and the other brave souls. He is no stranger to civil rights. God bless them, and those in Darfur. First shall be last, and last shall be first...

    April 27, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  16. libs be dopes

    Maybe they than keep them there.

    Seats open!

    April 27, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Joe

    Great example to set. Disobey police and cross barricades. What party are they from????

    April 27, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. Heroes

    John Lewis is an American hero! He continues to stand for what is right and continues to be punished for it. Its not his fault our government cares nothing about the people of Darfur. Maybe he should have told the Bush Administration before they left the White House that Bashir has WMDs. I guess that would not have worked because the U.S. seems to be only interested in liberating people who live on top of our oil.

    April 27, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. Amy

    Kudos Mr. Louis, LET FREEDOM RING!

    April 27, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. DJ

    I am so proud of people willing to lay it all on the line for basic human rights. Do what you can with what you have – these leaders are pledging there political capital. I hope that it will spark others to lend something of themselvs too. Rhetoric has its place, but faith without works... Something has to be done for all of the innoncents extinguished solely for someones else's power/control/pleasure. My heart aches, and especially during this 100 days of remembrance of the Rwandan genocide 15 years ago. I know Sudan doesn't sit on the oilfields of the Middle East, but the world has to realize that our collective indifference only weights the scales against us all when we are judged according to our humanity. (It amazes me that people are glued to the Twitter recounts of meals, dog-walking, etc, but aren't willing to insert themselves into the dialogue of these 21st century injustices!) Bravo to these Congress-persons!

    April 27, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. Rob

    Good for them.

    April 27, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  22. Ken

    This congress is an embarrassment to the people of the United States!

    April 27, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  23. Joe

    Nice to see US representitives are off getting arrested instead of doing their jobs in Washington.

    Let's hear it for lawbreaking politicians representing America in a foreign land! Yay!

    Protest correctly and legally imo.

    April 27, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  24. Peter

    This goes to show you still have to fight and sacrafice for FREEDOM all over the world. Kudos's to all of the above especially Mr. Louis who fought for FREEDOM with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights struggle.

    April 27, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. Stephanie

    Wow, I don't know much about these Reps but so far, I like them! I would love it if all elected officials took such gutsy actions to make something happen. These Reps risked "looking bad" for something that has been plaguing this earth for years. I wish I had been there!

    April 27, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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