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. LibertyQueen

    Lynn Woolsey (D-California) My Hero! Where are the republicans?

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

    Ahh Members of Congress being led away in handcuffs. If only that can happen here in America.

    A boy can only dream.

    April 27, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. Bob the Observer

    There's a right way to be wrong, and a wrong way to be right. These people accomplished nothing except to make fools of themselves. The best thing they could be doing is be at work like most of us are. The fact that they have time to loiter - at the amount of money they are making - should tell their constituents that these people are not serving the ones who elected them.

    April 27, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Chad

    Way to go, freedom for all, as Jesus said " I give you a new commandment love one another."

    April 27, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Expat American

    Not a single 'R' in the group; perhaps due to the fact that Republican 'Patriots' are guilty for causing a genocide of their own?

    April 27, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. Dee

    I am proud of Rep. John Lewis and other Rep's for taking a stand on the genocide in Sudan. It is time for the Sudan to leave past behind and live in the future. Time to repect your fellow man/women.

    April 27, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. Tim

    It's great to see that some of "our" elected officials believe that everything here is going so well that they can take time from robbing future generations to 'dramatize' a situation that would be worse than Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Great way to waste more taxes...

    April 27, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. dan

    good grief, we are niot paying you fools to get arrested. if i wanted my congressman to protest and get arrested, i'd have voted for jesse jackson or al sharption. idiots! try woking on a domestic issue

    April 27, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. Cooper

    I forgot politicians actually cared about people! Very refreshing!!

    April 27, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. bill

    Maybe a night in jail will do all of them some good.

    April 27, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  11. Bob

    It's great to see our lawmakers not just posturing but taking a stand for something outside their own districts, as well as our national borders. Then again, if the world is getting flatter maybe it's not outside our borders any more. What a difference between the tired old GOP whine over Obama daring to meet foreign leaders halfway rather than arrogantly asserting American "supremacy", and these Democratic members of Congress who will walk the walk concerning a human rights issue. Its politicians like these that will help reassert the U.S.'s position as a world leader, not mopey old has-beens spouting rhetoric about a once-upon-a-time superpower. Good to see that Reps. Lewis et. al. still have the reforming fervor of the Civil Rights movement.

    April 27, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. VNVET

    Kudos to the Reps...where were the Prolife republicans?

    April 27, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. Steve, Columbia SC

    What a wonderful example of our congressional democrats setting an example of law-abiding citizens...................

    April 27, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. Sara

    Good for Rep. Lewis!!!

    It is unacceptable for America or any other civilized country to play political games with a crime as horrific as genocide.

    April 27, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Open Your 3rd Eye

    America still is not fully awake.

    You want to do something that MATTERS = Save Darfur!

    April 27, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. Patty

    Power to the People!!

    April 27, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Sniffer

    Good for them, I hope they get a little taste of torture. They deserve it after the torture they gave the American people with all their spending and defending terrorists. I hope more O-butt sniffers get arrested too. Do America a favor and keep them! We had enough!

    April 27, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. Mike in Seattle

    Another example of how politicians are above the law. They pick and choose when to obey the laws. They certainly set a great example for all of America . . .just obey the laws you agree with.

    April 27, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Steve, Columbia SC

    Rene,

    They were arrested in the U.S...................in our nation's capital.

    April 27, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. Shannon

    Good for them! Little girls are being raped and decapitated in Darfur. I am white...and I know if those little girls were white, something would have been done to stop this a long time ago.

    We'll stop an eastern europe genocide, but we won't touch Darfur?

    April 27, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Josh in TN

    Finally congress people with a real fight. Why are there no reublicans being jailed for the right thing?

    April 27, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. Bruce

    He's an idiot what can I say. Let him move to Darfur. We have our own problems here he should be worried about.

    April 27, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Edwin

    It was on DC....please read the article before commenting. Who moderates this?

    Did anyone notice the lack of Repuglicans?

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

    Par for the course with our new democratic laden gov't.

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

    Some is taking a stand for the common man god bless you for that and I pray he will keep you safe.

    April 27, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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