Capitol Police Arrest Protesters
||The Hill (DC)
||Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Eight female demonstrators – including D.C. council member Mary Cheh – were arrested Wednesday by Capitol Police after blocking traffic along Constitution Avenue in protest of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”
Several hundred demonstrators congregated in Upper Senate Park following Wednesday afternoon’s House vote on the legislation. Passed with 251 votes, H.R. 3 would make permanent a ban on the use of federal funds for abortion.
The rally's organizer, voting-rights group DC Vote, has challenged the bill which would “federalize D.C. government and funds for the purposes of the legislation, setting a dangerous precedent of overruling the District’s already-limited local authority,” according to a press release.
Protesters stood in the wind and rain, calling on lawmakers to not tread on women’s or the District’s rights. Eight female demonstrators, including Cheh, blocked traffic on Constitution Avenue between First Street NE and First Street NW near the Capitol, and were detained by Capitol Police shortly after 7 p.m.
“We have got to get Congress’ attention," Maudine Cooper, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Washington Urban League, told the crowd during the rally. “We want autonomy, we want our own rights, especially over our own budget."
Wednesday’s protest follows an April 11 DC Vote rally in which 41 people were arrested for unlawful assembly after blocking traffic in protest of D.C.-related policy riders in a 2011 budget deal.
One of those arrested on April 11, D.C. council member Muriel Bowser, told the crowd Wednesday that she’s “mad as hell” that District voting rights are being bargained away.
“We demand the respect of all of our leadership,” she said. D.C. council member Yvette Alexander echoed the sentiment.
“Let’s take it to the streets and shut the city down,” Alexander told the crowd, saying that this fight was not just about reproductive rights. “We’re voting for all rights in the District of Columbia that our tax dollars pay for.”
Protests against H.R. 3 were not limited to those attending the rally. On
Tuesday, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to the
Democratic women of the Senate, calling on them to defend reproductive choice
in the District.
The women of the CBC praised them for “their indispensable work in defeating the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood in the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution, but [expressed] disappointment that the interests of low-income women in the District of Columbia were sacrificed in the process,” according to a CBC press release.