A handful of D.C. officials and activists began a longshot bid Wednesday to turn the tide in Congress , launching a sit-in on Capitol Hill over a federal budget deal poised to upend the city’s voter-approved measure to legalize marijuana.
“This isn’t about marijuana, this isn’t about drug policy, this is about local democracy,” said Kimberly Perry, president of D.C. Vote, a group dedicated to full voting representation for the nation’s capital in Congress.
And protesters from the heavily Democratic city were directing their anger at Democrats — specifically Senate Democrats.
Loitering in and around the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Perry and others blamed congressional leaders of the city’s dominant political party for caving to a request from conservative House Republicans to halt a marijuana measure passed last month by nearly seven in 10 D.C. voters.
D.C. Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown quoted Frederick Douglass, saying power concedes nothing without demand. “We’re making our demand,” Brown said.
The handful of activists said they would remain in Reid’s office until removed. If not before, that appeared likely to come at 5 p.m., when the Senate office building closes.
The sit-in — the first of at least two protests planned Wednesday — began a day after it became clear that a provision tucked in a 1,600-page agreement to keep the federal government funded into next year, would preclude D.C. from enacting any measures weakening federal drug laws in the District.