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. Mark B.

    All Democrats. Stop protesting and do something about it in congress – -such a waste of taxpayer money.

    April 27, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. atlanta,ga

    John Lewis is amazing...good for him.

    April 27, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. Black Woman, Falls Church, VA

    Good God...not John Lewis. I guess since racism in America is no longer an issue he had to find a new cause 😀

    April 27, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. Do it again!

    As long as it takes to bring attention to this great injustice, it ahould be done evoer and over again. Mr. Lewis is one of the greatest men in this nation when it comes to the Movement. He learned from the best. We should not only pray for those that are in Dafur, but make something happen to stop the murders. God bless you as you make your vioces heard!

    April 27, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    If our lawmakers don't stand up to the genocide, then who will? I tip my hat off to those congress people.

    April 27, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. jennifer

    Good job!

    April 27, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Elisius

    wow really!?
    and they didnt get stomped by the police?

    April 27, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Atem K.

    As you can read on this news item, there were no repubs in on the lawmakers protest of genocide at the political speech at Defuar?
    I thought they were trying to project themselves as the new, good party?

    April 27, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. Marc Greenberg

    Good for you, Rep. Lewis! I only wish that more people (including myself) had the time and courage to do the same.

    April 27, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. Bill

    If you feel so strongly about it why don't you use your political power instead of endangering yourself and others by crossing a police line ?

    April 27, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Janie

    I hope and pray to God that there were Republicans there as well, protesting the atrocities that are still happening in Darfur. Please don't let it be true that only Democrats care about this issue!

    April 27, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. barbara

    you go gang, awesome!!!!!!!

    April 27, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. Charlie

    Is this not the same issue Richard Gere railed about at the Oscars, uh, about 10 years ago?

    April 27, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  14. Joel from Ohio

    About time someone takes a stand.

    April 27, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. Peter Mac

    Protesting is well and good but also completely useless. The Congressmen and women could set themselves on fire and Sudan won't care.

    They are members of Congress and the Democrats have been in control of the Congress for more than 2 years now. Why not actually try and do something about Darfur instead of protesting about it?

    April 27, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. Irene

    Thank you congressmen. I noticed no GOP congressperson cared enough to make such a bold statement. It is my hope and prayer that we end the genocide in Darfur and all other places on this earth and that we have more representatives in government who are willing to take a stand for thatr which is right. God Bless you all. Shame on the police!!!

    April 27, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    They should know not to cross a police line but they are members of Congress so the laws do not apply to them. They should do as the police tell them,even if the cause is great.

    April 27, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. Independent_me

    God is on the side of the oppressed. When he stands before God he will be told "Well done, My good and faithful servant!".

    God bless these courageous senators who are on the side of the oppressed!

    April 27, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. Matt

    Wow, way to really put your neck on the line! This is as far as democrats are willing to go for freedom. Mock protests.

    April 27, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. Mike Fairbanks

    Why no Republicans?

    April 27, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. Rudy

    Good job congressmen ! It<s about time

    April 27, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. No Hillary = No Obama

    Notice that Barbara Lee from Oakland did not get herself arrested and you know what – she never will. What does that tell you about her?

    April 27, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    didnt obama say no one is above the law prosecute prosecute prosecute

    April 27, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. Bill in the other Washington

    I understand wanting to help the suffering people of the Sudan, but our representatives need to be about the business of solving the ills of the US right now. Our congressmen and women were sent to Washington to represent the people in their districts. There are plenty of things that need to get done. It bothers me they were taking up our time protesting. Take care of your own house first then you can effectively devote time to solving other problems.

    April 27, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Erik S.

    Oh, c'mon, get real. How long has this been going on in Darfur and nobody has given a care? Go back to work and stop grandstanding, you shouldn't even have enough time to play around barricades when your states are in such bad economic peril. Stop playing and start working.

    April 27, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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