AIDS Activists: Arrest “Went Smoothly”
This morning, 26 national AIDS protesters were arrested under the Capitol building's rotunda. At least four of the parties charged with "unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct" hail from the District's own activist community.
At 10 a.m., the protesters convened in the building, chained themselves together with a white chain, and demanded that Congress recognize the need to fund the fight against AIDS. They then "marched in a circle before lying down on the floor."
Capitol Police confirmed that "11 men and 15 women were charged." Though the full names of all protesters haven't been released, the activists belong to a coalition of five national groups, including a couple of organizations with D.C. offices: DC Fights Back and Housing Works.
A call to the D.C. Housing Works offices found all three regular staff members currently tied-up in the legal scuffle. The office's summer intern, Summer Sterling, was on-hand to answer the phones. Sterling confirmed that Larry Bryant, who serves as a co-chair of DC Fights Back and a National Field Organizer for Housing Works, was under arrest; two other Housing Works employees were busy monitoring the process and handling media inquiries. Though Sterling wouldn't comment on how involved she was in the planning of the protest, she did say that she "one-hundred-percent expected [the activists] to be arrested."
Housing Works' Christine Campbell, who had accompanied the activists to the protests, confirmed that at least four locals were among the 26 arrested activists. She, too, registered little surprise with the Capitol Police reaction. "We took that risk," she said. "We knew we were going to be chaining ourselves together in the Capitol, so."
Campbell says that the arrest "went very smoothly"—especially after police realized that Campbell was on-hand as "legal support for the group." At that point, Capitol Police cleared the rotunda, issued a warning to the protesters, and then arrested them.
Photo by Kyle Rush, Creative Commons Attribution License