Kwame Brown Talks About His Arrest
||Washington Business Journal (DC)
||Tuesday, April 12, 2011
At one point late Monday night, while in Capitol Police custody, D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown slipped a hand out of his handcuffs to lift a seat for one of his fellow inmates, a gentleman named Jack Evans.
Not the Ward 2 Councilman, mind you, just another voting rights advocate with the same name.
"I took my hand out to lift up the thing to let Jack sit down, and everybody laughed," Brown said during a talk Tuesday with Washington Business Journal editors and reporters. "They're like, 'Your hand's supposed to be in that cuff.’ "
It was a lighthearted moment in an otherwise difficult night. Forty-one D.C. residents — Brown, Mayor Vincent Gray and Council members Tommy Wells, Yvette Alexander, Sekou Biddle, Muriel Bowser and Michael Brown, among them — were arrested for blocking Constitution Avenue as they protested the federal budget compromise, in which the District, as Gray has said, was "thrown under the bus."
Brown said getting arrested was not his plan when he arrived at the rally, but he didn't have any second thoughts as officers were cuffing him.
"It was interesting because a couple of them actually live in the District of Columbia," the chairman said of the arresting officers. "I knew one of the guys and his family and he had a smile on his face the whole time because he really understood what we were doing and appreciated it even though he still had to lock everyone up."
Brown returned home around 1:45 a.m. Tuesday. It was a long night — though shorter for Brown than for some others who wouldn't return to their families for another four hours.
"We had to go through the whole process," Brown said. "Clearly there’s no technology. I think the objective is for you to be so worn out that you never decide to do it again. They hand write everything. You’re like, ‘Has anyone ever heard of a computer?’ And they’re like, ‘No, this is how we do it.’”
The protesters, roughly 200 of them, were irate that the District was reportedly used as a bargaining chip in the negotiations between President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. One rider attached to the budget deal prohibits D.C. from spending locally raised tax revenue on abortion, while another re-institutes a school voucher program.
"It just made me think about the stuff that my father had been through in the civil rights movement, and my mom and others who probably didn’t get treated the way I got treated when I got put in that paddy wagon," Brown said. From a historic standpoint it’s just about civil rights. This is the modern day fight.
"It really taught me that you can make a difference and you can send a message when we unite behind one issue and you have the courage to just sit there."