State Watch

71 arrested outside Capitol during demonstration for low-wage workers

Julia Nikhinson

More than 70 protesters were arrested outside the Capitol on Monday during a demonstration calling for legislation to help low-wage workers, parents in need of child care, people who cannot access healthcare and immigrants seeking citizenship. 

Protesters were arrested after blocking an intersection during the demonstration, Capitol Police confirmed to The Hill. The protest, led by the Poor People’s Campaign, was held to push the Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act before the new year, which protesters said was a long time coming. 

“We cannot, in these days, be silent,” the Rev. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, told protesters outside the Capitol. “Not when there is the biggest attack on our democracy in our lifetime.”

The roughly $2 trillion proposal would provide funding for child care and aid to low-income families. It would also expand Medicare coverage and increase funding to combat climate change. Democrats are trying to get the bill passed before the end of the year, but they face several roadblocks, most notably continued resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

“For too long we have heard promises during campaigns that sound like it’s going to lift up the people, and then once people get elected they disappear at the end and during the congressional session because somebody, somewhere has got some deep pockets say it’s not possible,” the Rev. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said at the protest. “Well, we refuse to accept the crisis of possibility.”

Theoharis and Barber led the demonstration to the intersection of 3rd Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, according to the Post. The group demanded that Congress “get it done in 2021,” also calling for increased protections for immigrants, voting rights and low-wage workers — and abolishing the filibuster, which could bypass Republican resistance on those issues 

“We ain’t going to be like January the 6th. We fight for the real people. Y’all ain’t got to worry about us,” Barber said to the Capitol Police officers standing nearby protesters. “We fight for you and your children.”

However, as the group blocked the intersection, police warned that they would be arrested if they did not disperse, the Washington Post notedBarber replied to the officer, “You know we’re not coming to get arrested. We’re coming to arrest the attention of the nation. We’re nonviolent.”

The officer reiterated that they were still blocking the roadway, and police reportedly warned protesters two more times before arresting a total of 71 people. They were detained for crowding, obstructing or blocking the street, a Capitol Police spokesman said, per the Post.

The Poor People’s Campaign, a revival of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s movement, has organized previous protests in the capital calling for much of the same ideals as Monday’s demonstration. 

The Hill has reached out to the Poor People’s Campaign for comment. 

—Updated at 12:40 p.m.

Tags Build Back Better Act Capitol Hill demonstration Joe Manchin

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