Protesters Arrested in Rotunda

Posted July 28, 2010 at 1:53pm

Eight protesters were arrested in the Capitol on Wednesday after disrupting tours for hundreds of visitors and getting the attention of the Speaker’s office.

“Speaker Pelosi,” they chanted while sitting in the middle of the Rotunda, “I am somebody, and I deserve job protections right here, right now.”

The protest signaled an increase in the level of civil disobedience Get Equal is willing to display over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal for employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she wants to pass the bill but that now is not the time.

Today’s demonstration, which prompted stronger police action than previous ones and got more attention, was designed to show that the activists weren’t satisfied with waiting.

The protest began at noon, after the group entered the Capitol under the guise of taking a tour. Once inside the Rotunda, they unfolded papers that said, “Speaker Pelosi, This is Your Reminder” and “Vote on ENDA.”

Dressed in black, they sat down in the middle of the Rotunda as tourists began to take pictures.

“Just don’t talk to them,” one tour guide instructed visitors. Police quickly escorted the guided tours out of the Rotunda, and staff with Pelosi’s office stepped out to watch the arrests.

“Passing ENDA this year is a top priority for the Speaker, but we believe that passing ENDA before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal has been finalized jeopardizes both initiatives,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.

The activists were arrested 20 minutes after they began the action, and tours have since resumed.