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. Buddah

    Free Donna Edwards!!!

    April 27, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. Terrence

    Best news I've heard all day. Finally, members of Congress actually substituting action for words. A better cause to support they could not have found .

    April 27, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. JML

    CLEARLY something needs to be done about Sudan, they just don't seem to get the fact that "KILLING-of-People" in the name of anything or anyone is WRONG WRONG WRONG. Someone must stand up and shout this out until they change. Ya'll have my prays.

    April 27, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  4. Joe

    These members should be removed from office. They knowingly and willfully violated the law. Are these not the same members of Congress who refused to allow a certain Senator from Illinois to take his seat after he was lawfully appointed? If he wasn't allowed to take his seat because of simple alligations, surely these 5 shouldn't be alllowed back into Congress based on the same principle!

    April 27, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Ted

    It is too bad that this has been the only action by Congress to attempt to deal with the Sudan situation. The Bush administration was incredibly silent on the genocide, but that was probably because there is no oil over there. I hope Obama takes a stand.

    April 27, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. Spencer

    While it is good that Congress is finally acting on the genocidal practices in Sudan, it would send a better message for them to follow the laws they are supposed to uphold. That being said, good job on sending a message.

    April 27, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. John

    Not to say that I disagree with the congressmen(and women) in their opinions about Darfur, but defying the laws when you are one who makes those very laws seems like a really bad idea.

    April 27, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. Sarah

    Bravo to the seven TRUE congress persons!!! They are trying to help save Darfur instead of just talking about it, like the rest of the politicians!
    They took ACTION! Why aren't ALL of our politicians taking action???

    April 27, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Seth

    These democrats think they above the law anywhere. Wellt think again.

    April 27, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. Jen Chopson

    Thank You to all the Senators involved. We have to let the Sudanese Government know that we will not stand by and allow yet another Genocide happen. Darfur is the FIRST Genocide of this century, God willing it will be the last, be we must STAND UP and make a difference. Everyone got to savedarfur.org and see how ordinary citizens can help.

    April 27, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. Same Old White House

    They need to be reprimanded as they are representatives of the U.S. and should not be violating the law.

    April 27, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. serendipity

    It's about blasted time someone did something! I pray it helps.

    April 27, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. AndyinPC

    God bless them with more intelligence than this... a legislator should know better than to trespass. I agree that we need to be doing something about Darfur, but I think a Representatives' role in congress provides more opportunity to promote change than getting arrested, but maybe I'm just old school.

    April 27, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Kristin

    Stand up for what you believe in!!!!
    I would have been there right next to you if there were a way. There is a silver lining. More eyes will look at what is going on there now.

    April 27, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. Paul

    Are you kidding me? Is this what we pay these idiots for? We have enough problems right here at home, and these globe trotters are off fighting battles in other countries. What is happening to this country? Who is minding the store?

    April 27, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Tim

    Sudan and Somalia Presidents need to be outsed!

    April 27, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. SBrown

    Keep them there!!!

    April 27, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Heath

    Some warriors are timeless.

    April 27, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. Rich

    They should be removed from their congressional positions for willingly and knowingly breaking the law.

    April 27, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. Jim

    Throw em in jail... forever.

    April 27, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. M

    What Soldiers! Fight on!

    April 27, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. J.Crobuzon

    It takes stones to go get arrested in protest over something – notice no Republicans were there for the children.

    April 27, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. Mike Mundy, Houston, TX

    As I die hard conservative, I must say that I agree with Lewis and commend his efforts. Give credit where credit is due.

    April 27, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. truth is liberal sort of

    Mr. Lewis, remember after this recent change, we are not the worlds' police. Let the powerful U.N. take care of this problem.

    April 27, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. K2

    Guess there was nothing more important to do over at the capitol, like running the country.

    April 27, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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