Capitol Protests End With More Than 1,300 Arrests

Julian Bond's widow, Ben and Jerry's co-founders among those arrested Monday

Democracy Spring protesters were given wristbands before being detained outside the Capitol on Wednesday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Democracy Spring protesters were given wristbands before being detained outside the Capitol on Wednesday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Posted April 19, 2016 at 1:28pm

The Capitol steps just got a lot quieter. The Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening coalitions protests have ended with 1,317 people arrested since the demonstrations began on April 11.  

Pamela Horowitz, the widow of social activist and civil rights leader Julian Bond, was among those arrested Monday.  

“I’ve never been arrested before, I’m a lawyer and sort of wanted to avoid it,” said Horowitz, who lives in Northwest D.C. “Now I’m retired and didn’t care as much about having it on my record.”  

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream were also arrested Monday. The cause for arrest, according to Horowitz, was incommoding — if the 4,000-some daily protestors did not leave the Capitol steps when asked, they would be subject to arrest.  

“We had training ahead of time to make sure that everybody among the arrestees behaved properly,” Horowitz said. She got involved with Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening after an invitation from the organizers to sit in with them on Monday when they were highlighting voting rights.  

Horowitz was asked to attend the memory of her husband. Julian Bond, helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the early-1960s before serving two decades in the Georgia legislature. He was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and chaired the NAACP for 12 years.  

Even after her first and only arrest to date, Horowitz still thinks making a change will be difficult.  

“These days, we’re not really a functioning democracy and so it’s hard to tell if the ways in which you try to influence Congress still work,” she said. “There are so many people that gerrymandering has created a safe seat for, and so forcing Congress to do things is not easy anymore.”  

In her remarks at the protest, Horowitz stressed the importance of restoring parts of the Voting Rights Act that were struck by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling. “To me, it’s just criminal that they have not done so since the Supreme Court decision,” she said, adding that she was not optimistic that would happen.  

Horowitz said the process of being arrested was very smooth, mainly because the protesters were processed on site, and the Capitol Police officers did not use handcuffs.  

“The only downside was that, if you pay whatever bail is set, in this case $50 per person, that’s the end of the matter,” she said.  

Actress Rosario Dawson and Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig were arrested on Friday.  

Each day of the protests was devoted to a different hot-button issue, beginning on April 11 with a demand to take money out of politics.  


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