Twelve arrested at D.C. voting rights rally
Two local pastors and an expectant mother were among twelve protestors arrested at a rally for D.C. voting rights across from the White House Saturday. They range in age from 18 to 65 years old.
"I live in D.C., I pay taxes, and I'm sick and tired of being a second-class citizen," said Philip Pannell, who was among the arrested.
The group DC Vote organized the protests across from the White House to put pressure on President Obama.
Mayor Vincent Gray drew cheers from the several hundred people gathered in Lafayette Square when he called for D.C. to become the 51st U.S. state. Reversely, mentions of Congressional oversight over D.C.'s budget were booed by the crowd, many of whom brought homemade signs.
Gray said he hasn't spoken with President Obama about D.C. voting rights in several months. "He has to stand up and fight for it," Gray said.
"We have had enough," Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told the crowd. Many participants brought homemade signs, ABC7's Mike Conneen reports.
Opponents say it would be unconstitutional to give D.C. statehood and voting rights. U.S. Park Police said the twelve protestors who were arrested were charged with failure to obey a lawful order, a misdemeanor.
“This week, the House Appropriations Committee passed a bill that would, once again, prohibit DC from using local tax revenue to provide reproductive healthcare for low-income women,” DC Vote said in a note announcing the rally posted on the group’s website. DC Vote is calling on President Barack Obama to oppose the measure.
"Every branch of this government has been implicated in our treatment as second-class citizens" Holmes Norton said in a statement after the arrests. "We are forced to defend the simple right of every American and of every local jurisdiction to pass any law and especially to spend any funds we raise any way we choose."
Saturday’s arrests bring the total number of people arrested since the 2011 budget deal to 73, Holmes Norton said. The compromise negotiated by Congress and the White House included controversial policy provisions – so-called riders – that placed restrictions on the D.C. budget.
Gray and several D.C. council members were among 41 people arrested at a voting rights rally in April after sitting down and blocking Constitution Avenue near the U.S. Capitol.
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