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.


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Kayelynn

    And they are protesting in another country because...........???

    Yes, a bad issue, but they need to be doing their job here, not campaigning for black votes, this is just show business.

    All show, does anyone in Darfur even know who they are? Do they even know what country they are from? All show.

    April 27, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. Lance

    While the grave atrocities taking place in Sudan must be stopped immediately, it is particularly noteworthy to see how these passionate actions undertaken by US Representatives may translate into discussion of our current ICC policy. Arguably, very few would not understand these mass human rights violations qualify as genocide. However, it is very frustrating to know that the likelihood of the ICC apprehending President Bashir, thus bringing peace to the region, is very low. Does this mean the ICC is not capable of affectively addressing these non ICC member states? On the contrary, does this apparent stalemate highlight the need for the US to ratify the Rome Statute, and work to use the new judicial arm to apprehend, and prosecute those such as Bashir?

    April 27, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. dave

    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.

    April 27, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. King & Dobbs Part III

    Another misleading, titalating title to a CNN blog post ....

    To read this, you'd conclude, as Rene did, that these Congressmen were arrested IN DARFUR.

    CNN can you raise your standards please ... leave Fox News and the National Enquirer behind.

    April 27, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. pam Eugene OR

    Good for them. If you don't stand for something you will fall for nothing. I see the Republicans can't even agree with Democrats on this issue. What a shame that Republicans don't stand for anything at all!

    April 27, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Anna

    Sudan's president, Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir who has used rape as a weapon of genocide seems to be untouchable. Why is the International community allowing this horror to continue?

    I admire the members of Congress who have decided to protest. If others follow their example then the publicity will cause those who are turning a blind eye to be shamed into doing something to help these innocent people.

    April 27, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Remi Murphy (Tracy CA)

    Wow, the "tea baggers' should have been there.

    April 27, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Diana

    Is it a surprise to anyone that John Lewis is still fighting for the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves. A true leader of the Civil Rights movement, and a true leader of Global Civil Rights. Congressman Lewis, as a Black/Latino woman, my family and myself owe you a debt of gratitude. God Bless!!!!!

    Diana

    April 27, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. PAUL

    I hope he and his associates are safe and come home soon. It appears that the heads of that government in Sudan and Darfur are somewhat braindead in that they are selfish and don't care about any of their people.

    April 27, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  10. The Weatherman

    We can watch innocent people get slaughtered at the hands of a brutal regime as we protest or we can do something about. GW Bush did the latter and was vilified for caring about others.

    How long have we been protesting the abuse of Tibet by the Chinese government?

    April 27, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. jj

    It is time we all spokeout about what is happening in Darfur, Sudan

    April 27, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. WIll 18E

    I think what they did was both admirable and symbolic.

    However, they should be at work on Capitol HIll.

    April 27, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. phoenix86

    Keep them in jail until Congress presses the Iranians to release the US journalist.

    April 27, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  14. Kalina

    It's about time someone in Washington stood up and did something about this. Thank you! And to my Rep. Keith Ellison- this is why I voted for you. Now, what is ALSO newsworthy here- is how many in Washington- weren't there with them. Let's hope that we can move towards ending this genocide against human beings in Africa!

    April 27, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Andre

    They are in DC Rene. The Sudan Embassy, not actual Sudan.

    April 27, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  16. Ray Fisher

    Now what exactly are we supposed to do with Darfur??? We tried humanitarian aid to Somalia and they killed our troops and dragged their bodies down the streets so what short of nukes do they want???

    April 27, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. carlos

    I think they did the right thing. But it would be even better if they push some legislation to end the Dafur problem once and for all.

    April 27, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. Denise in MD

    Congresswoman Edwards just won my vote for re-election if she decides to run for another term.

    April 27, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Thomas

    Finally members of congress doing more than just talking about Darfur~

    April 27, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. Roger

    I hope they are charged as any other individual would be and while they are in custody, which I don't imagine will be for very long, why not check and see if they paid their taxes.

    April 27, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Lizanne

    Thank you for taking a stand. President Obama, are you listening?

    April 27, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. max pargament

    What a good man (along with the rest of the congressmen/women)
    . This issue gets absolutely no media attention. Its ironic how we went into Iraq and we are considering attacking Iran, two countries with oil. Yet we aren't considering military force against: North Korea or Sudan, two countries with oil, and one of which is openly saying it will produce nuclear weapons. At least Iran is stating (whether true or not) that its going nuclear for power.

    April 27, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. Love John Lewis

    69 years old and still demonstrating against human injustice. God bless him and the other representatives arrested.

    April 27, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. fred

    Democrats find the dumbest ways to accomplish things. I just knew this would be democrats as soon as I saw the word "arrested." Seriously, our congress has started participating in protests? WOW

    April 27, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. Sandi

    Good! I'm VERY proud of them. Now, maybe the U.S. GOP can stop worrying about tea bags and protesting nonsense and focus on IMPORTANT issues! Kudos to the Dems for ONCE AGAIN setting the example!

    April 27, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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