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. ham

    this was in washington rene....

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

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

    April 27, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. darryl

    Do they want us to send troops? Sudan does not care about sanctions that will not be enforced. Their protests are a joke.

    April 27, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. Kevin in Rockford IL

    GOOD FOR THEM! Someone has to take a stand!

    April 27, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. philip

    Kind of like Irag, huh? This can be the new administration's war

    April 27, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. Mike

    Can't solve everyone's problems at once Johnny. Silly libs, only Sudan can help Sudan!

    April 27, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. Justin Sassone

    I applaud the efforts of the Representatives in raising awaresness of the genocide in Sudan. I only wish more members of Congress would be equally willing to demonstrate their commitment–through civil disobedience–to our nation's ideal of ending and preventing of the horror of our generation that can only take place when good people do nothing.

    April 27, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. Aaron

    Wouldn't their time be better spent drafting legislation and working at their higher levels than being processed at the police station? I understand their reasoning behind it, but common! I thought we had all sorts of unresolved financial issues, 2 wars ....and these guys are clowning around and breaking the laws.

    April 27, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. George Vreeland Hill

    Only five?
    Every member of Congress should be arrested for turning their backs on the American people.

    George Vreeland Hill

    April 27, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. rich

    It's a shame these members of congress have to take this step to get the attention of the world about what is happenning in Dafur. Hope none of them got tasered.

    April 27, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  11. Matt

    Another Left-wing grandstand. The Sudan has been a mess since before General Gordon tried to quell the violence of Khartoum in 1885. The left always wants to get involved with their mouth and our pocketbooks and troops to involve ourselves in a conflict that is of no interest to us economically. People die everywhere, it's unfortunate, but it is of greater concern domestically rather than in the Sudan.

    April 27, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. katy

    Apparently, these Congressmen and women believe they are above the law. They are willing to put other people's lives at risk for their own personal benefit. This was just another staged stint for a photo opportunity. God forbid they actually spend their time working to fix problems they created here in the U.S.

    Stay tuned. Next we will see then giving up crotch-shots so they can get their photos in the paper.

    April 27, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. Stupidity never ceases to amaze me

    Rene, make it home safely?

    They were in DC. They crossed a police line and violated several laws the least being tresspassing in their own city and country. They should get them for enciting a riot (felony). These people are politicians with a direct voice to the policy makers (themselves and counterparts) in this country. They need to do their jobs and get the support amoung their own collegues in congressto change this. These simpletons achieved nothing by their violations and their efforts are better spent doing their jobs. These five members of congress must be impotent in their elected seats and therefore should be removed. But of course simple is how the dem constituents like it.

    April 27, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. GWB2012

    Too bad Keith Olbermann, Harry Reed, Nancy Piglosi, Patrick Leahy and Al Franken couldn't have been there. Darn it! It would have made our country so much better!

    April 27, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. Clay

    Interesting that not one of the arrested Congressmen were republican. I guess they're too busy defending the tortures committed during their unwavering support of Bush.

    April 27, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. Liz

    I think that's awesome. It is good to hear of government officials actually standing up for something that's right, no matter what the conseqences. . . I'm proud of them.

    April 27, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. Nick

    "You have to find a way to dramatize an issue,"
    -Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia)

    Could not have said it better, wait, aren't these "lawmakers?"
    Sounds a lot like law breakers to me. There are ways to do things in
    this country, these people just figured they would get more attention if they broke the rules. These are the people "leading" our country, holy crap.

    Keep the "change"

    April 27, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. white female

    May God be with them. For those who hope in the LORD will renew their strenght. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Rep. John Lewis we pray that you'll will be keep safe and return home safe.

    May God Bless.

    April 27, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. Aaron

    Finally, at least the police show that lawmakers are not above the law!

    April 27, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. ed

    Where were the Republicans? Darfur is not important enough?

    April 27, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. Frank

    Without them, these protests and the cause would never have been known to the general public.

    April 27, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. Lana

    About time someone took some sort of stand.

    April 27, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. David in Indiana

    I think most people agree that Darfur is an example of man's inhumanity to man. The U.N. has stood by and let it happen. Food and medicine only go so far. I applaud these individuals for standing up for their beliefs, but they disobeyed a lawful order to move back. Being an elected official does not give them the right to refuse that order. In my opinion, any elected official that is arrested, for whatever reason, does not have the right to represent the people of this country. These individuals are supposed to be lawmakers not lawbreakers.

    However noble the cause, if we are to remain a civilized society, we must obey the laws of this society. If you do not agree with the laws we have, change them.

    April 27, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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