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. Denizen Kate

    Why were they all Democrats? Are there no Republicans willing to take a stand against the genocide taking place in Darfur?

    April 27, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. Rick

    I really believe our Representatives should be focusing on fixing the problems in our own country before getttinng arrested to supprt Darfur. How can we fix the worlds problems if our house id not in order.

    April 27, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. indiana voter

    Good! More Democrats need to go to jail! Bunch of crooks, the whole lot of them.

    April 27, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. Dave

    No Republicans? You'd think with all their preaching about religion they'd be the first to take a stand against genocide. Guess that was just all talk...

    April 27, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Brandon

    These people are heroes. Shining a light on a morally bankrupt government. Please remember, that this was the same place that Osama bin Laden hid out as well as Afghanistan. If there was a country that we should have invaded this is one would have been higher on my list than Iraq. Of course Sudan doesn't have large deposits of oil, but that is an old argument.

    April 27, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. Traci, Chicago IL

    That's right Congresspeople, keep standing for what's right!

    April 27, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. person

    nice to see that this article got one comment, when Darfur's genocide continues. Great job america! Try to get involved in somthing more than our Ipods and cell phones.

    April 27, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. Karen

    It is a proud day for the people of their states. Lawmakers taking a stand for human justice is a basic stone of freedom, and they are a credit to their country and government.

    April 27, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. Texas Teacher

    The civilized world... so called... must speak up agains man's inhumanity to man! We live in the 21st century now.... some of these barbarians are going to have to be jerked into it! And if we do not do it, we pay the price..... you start a circle... it comes back to you.

    April 27, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. kmp

    5,4,3,2,1 here comes someone sure to say look it is dems getting arrested they must all be crooks.
    I appauld what they are doing and the message that they are trying to get out something needs to be done and it takes guts especially for a memeber of congress to be willing to get arrested in order to make the point.

    April 27, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. Crissi MBA

    Does anyone find it terrible that the only Congressmen protesting were democrats? Do the republicans not care about genocide?

    April 27, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. Barbara

    Ditto, Rene.

    April 27, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. Reality

    The same people who called Iraq War opponents 'unpatriotic', will probably criticize these Reps because they are Democrats. Those same people are the Repbulicans who think 'their' Tea Parties were a great thing. Funny how the exact same type of display of one's beliefs can be judged so much differently depending on whose beliefs they are.

    April 27, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. Sandra in SC

    Rep. John Lewis has been at the forefront for decency and human rights before. He is absolutely right to demonstrate his compassion in front of the world. God bless him and the others who so bravely address the genocide in Darfur. Pay attention World Leaders!

    April 27, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. Daniel Mayinja

    Kudos to the brave congressmen and women, but should it have come to this? Sudan (and rogue African regimes for that matter) - WAKE UP and stop the killing!

    April 27, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. Steve

    I guess John Lewis only cares about black victims of genocide? He didn't seem to broken up about the poor Kurds who Saddam was slaughtering with chemical weapons. What a self-sering hypocrite. You want John Lewis, you can have him. He's a freaking joke here in Georgia.

    April 27, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  17. wolfstan

    From spending a career in a large police department, I am sure that the officers guarding the embassy regret having to make the arrests. I think Rep. Lewis and the others are entirely in the right to protest the Sudanese atrocities. I really hope the protest will have a proper effect upon Sudan, instead of just newspaper publicity.

    April 27, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. BTO

    So the lesson here is what? It's ok to break the law as long as you feel that you are morally correct? I am not sure I agree that our political leaders should set such an example. They are supposed to be the ones elected to uphold law and if they feel that the status quo is not correct, to fix it! Not break the current ones. The ends does not justify the means. PS, I fully agree with the protest but...

    April 27, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. Deborah

    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).

    Why aren't they in Congress doing their jobs the American Tax Payer Pays them for?????????

    Was this a "Field Trip" do see where our Tax Dollars go??????

    April 27, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  20. obama/mama

    How brave. I hope they will be home soon

    April 27, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  21. arithmetic is liberal

    God bless those Congress men and women! What stones!

    April 27, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. Molly

    lol...that's awesome! Now that's what I call standing up for what you believe in.

    April 27, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  23. Annette

    Absolutely...God bless them and the people of Darfur!

    April 27, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. schneider.360

    Now these are the kind of protests we need in America! Good for you guys, I'm glad you could stick your neck out there for something that actually means something..... unlike those stupid tea parties.

    April 27, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. Joanna

    Good for him. How can the world stand by and let all these terrible murders go on. It has been far too long. Children are dying.

    April 27, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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