April 27th, 2009
04:51 PM ET
14 years ago

U.S. lawmakers arrested in Darfur protest at Sudan embassy

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/27/art.lewis.protest.cnn.jpg caption="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. Striker

    It takes courage to do this. I did notice none of them were republicans. Preachers of Freedom and Justice are vanished in wilderness that they can't do bipartisanship in Darfur issue?

    April 27, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Larry Burch

    What a great example! We try to teach people to obey the law, and our lawmakers are setting their normal example by breaking them.

    April 27, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Antonio

    Good for them. Somebody needed to put this issue back in the public discussion.

    April 27, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. chaka

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

    April 27, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. Randy

    Why in the world are OUR representatives out of the United States instead of HERE in the United States focusing their efforts on OUR concerns, i.e. the economy, housing crisis? At this point in time I, along with MILLIONS of other constituents could care less about affairs outside of the United States. Quit your grandstanding, get back to the United States and get back to work or resign your office here and stay over there if Darfur is that important. We're sick of you wasting OUR tax dollars !!!

    April 27, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Mississippi Mike

    They can stay locked up for a while, they aren't doing anyone any good outside of prison. Maybe they can convert a few convicts to liberalism.

    April 27, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. louie

    I hope these congress members are doing this on their own time and dime. most likely on our tax dollars.

    April 27, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. PULEEEZZZ!! lets tell some truth

    NOTICE that there were NO republicans putting their pink rich butts on the line for something like this. Good going Lewis and company!! 🙂

    April 27, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Thomas

    That's how we can improve our image overseas. Our federal legislators making worthless political grandstanding actiosn and breaking laws in foreign countries.

    I can just see the numbers of Sudan's children being helped by these vapid acts.

    I hope they get convicted and actually sentenced for willfully breaking the law.

    April 27, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. porked again

    Why, in the midst of trillion dollar deficits, do these democraps think they need to waste taxpayers dollars and waste the time of our hardworking law enforcement deliberating breaking the law.

    Just for a photo opportunity? How arrogant, how selfish, how self-serving. How about just plain hypocritical? But understandable given who is involved....

    April 27, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. jj

    Are we afraid to save Darfur because of China, the president of Sudan is a wanted man but nobody has the corage to go after him because China got his back, whose back to we have in this?

    During the Clinton Era we stood around and watched the Genocide happening in Rwanda and Burundi... here we go again, standing on the sidelines watching Genocide happening in Darfur, Sudan.

    What are the greater implications of this, the Janjaweed have been roaming freely and killing and raping people in Darfur area, is there any relevance here to what the Taliban were/are doing to the areas that they had/have control over. The entire region is at risk, not too far in Somalia piracy is a big thing now, lawlessness has taaken control soon or later some group will move in and make it a savehavean and they will start practicing some crazy laws by the time we wake up the whole reggion might be gone, PlZ HELP SAVE DARFUR.

    April 27, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. AT

    It's great to see some of our elected officials moving out of the comfort of their offices and getting actively involved in standing up for what is right. God bless 'em!

    April 27, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    I wish I could have been there to protest, too. I would be proud to be arrested for this situation.

    Unfortunately, I live half a mile from the Pacific Ocean and can't get to Washington DC very quickly.

    April 27, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. lia

    While a noble symbolic gesture, exactly how does this serve his constituency at home?

    April 27, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. Dan Barnett

    Has American had a more brave or more decent congressmen in the House of Reppresentatives since Selma than John Lewsis? He is on the front lines every day to advance human rights and correct human wrongs. He is a true American Treasure.
    WE pray for his safety.
    Don B.

    April 27, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Skeptic

    They are not above the law, no matter what their reasoning or beliefs.
    Common criminals.
    Lock them up just like they would you and I.

    April 27, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. Mike O

    Easy to say 'save Darfur', step across a police line, be arrested and held for a couple hours. What did it change?

    If they want to accomplish 'change' here, have them write up and submit a bill requesting that the U.S. invade Sudan. Think Darfur can be 'saved' any other way? Maybe by the 'blue helmets'? They're already there and doing nothing.

    Of course, that type of 'humanitarian' effort has been tried before with a weak-willed president- in Somalia. This wouldn't turn out any better.

    April 27, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Tyler

    Thank god someone is stepping up and doing something. I have alot more respect now for our members of Congress.

    April 27, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Marcia

    There was no money to made.............so the GOP didn't show!!!!

    April 27, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. walleye

    If you break the law you should pay the price.
    Now lets go after the crooks in the Bush Administration.

    April 27, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. Guts

    I respect John Lewis and the others for what they have done. This is a real tough guy. Much love to them.

    April 27, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. Linda

    Isn't it odd that the members of Congress who are committing crimes run around free, while those who stand for what is right go to jail? What' up our nation's capitol?

    April 27, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Florida Boy

    God bless those democrats, they always putting other people's problem ahead of their own interest, it is soo refreshing to see we still have caring people on this great plane of ours. No matter how bad things are, those who seek to do good and promote justice always balance things against those who seek to promote ideologue hatred.... I sent my love and peace to all those protesters who are protesting good and solid issues, god is on your side....

    April 27, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. jack

    A US lawmaker should not be one to Deliberately break the law.

    April 27, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. Bob in Pa

    Please arrest some more and keep them locked up. They have done enough stealing of taxpayer money that they deserver to be there anyway.

    April 27, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
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