Mayor, D.C. Council Chairman Arrested in Capitol Protes
||Washington Examiner (DC)
||Monday, April 11, 2011
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was arrested Monday evening on unlawful assembly charges, along with D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown and about 40 others protesting federal control of the city’s spending and pushing for voting rights in Congress.
About 200 people came out to protest Monday evening, three days after President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, brokered a deal to keep the federal budget running that also banned the District from spending local taxpayer dollars on abortions.
“It’s a boiling point,” said Ward 1 resident Micah Haskell-Hoehl, who came out to his first protest for D.C. rights Monday evening, pushed by the spending controls Congress is set to put in place on the city. The ban on abortion spending “is the epitome of kicking the smallest person when they’re already down.”
Gray, Brown and five other council members were arrested when they refused to clear Constitution Avenue near the Capitol building. Notable among those missing was D.C.’s delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, whose office did not immediately return calls for comment.
The charge is a misdemeanor that’s treated like a traffic ticket and costs $50 to clear, authorities said.
The mayor’s arrest comes as his administration seems lost in scandal. Even the recent release of his 2012 budget proposal that set his spending priorities was overshadowed by ongoing council hearings on Gray’s hiring and salary decisions.
But his arrest might serve as the reset he’s needed to right his wayward administration. Gray was cheered by those residents who watched him get carted away in handcuffs.
“It makes me feel he’s standing up for me more than any other mayor,” said Ward 6 resident Donna Olson. “To see the mayor and council members do this, it makes me proud.”
Olson and others chanted “statehood now,” “statehood now” and “don’t tread on D.C., we demand democracy,” as Gray and council members Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, Tommy Wells, Yvette Alexander, Muriel Bowser and Sekou Biddle and other protesters waited to be taken away in police vehicles.
“This is what happens when they don’t treat us with respect,” said Ward 3 resident Joe Grano. “If I were the mayor, I wouldn’t do it every time, but he wanted to make a statement that Congress has gone too far.”