Joyce Marie Beatty, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus and U.S. Representative for Ohio’s third congressional district since 2013, was arrested Thursday along with eight activists while protesting on Capitol Hill.
Demonstrating for voting rights in the atrium of a Senate office building, Beatty was resilient and definitive in spreading the word about the voting rights legislation that’s on the floor in the Senate.
“You can arrest me. You can’t stop me. You can’t silence me,” Beatty wrote on Twitter shortly after her detainment.
Surrounded by 20 other protesters, the group entered the Hart Senate Office Building singing spirituals, and chanting phrases related to protecting voting rights, such as “end the filibuster,” and “fight for justice.” Capitol Police officers arrested Beatty and eight other protesters, binding their hands with zip ties.
Capitol Police released a statement via Twitter, sharing that they warned Beatty and the protesters “three times” to stop before being arrested for violating a D.C. law that bars “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” and disallows demonstrators to “resume engaging in a demonstration after being instructed by a law enforcement officer to cease engaging in a demonstration.”
With lawmakers still crafting the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Beatty and the demonstrators were calling on the Senate to pass the For the People Act, which is a wide-ranging voting and elections reform bill that was blocked last month. The former was created in the name of the late civil rights icon and would restore a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that was gutted by the Supreme Court.
The margins appear to be slim within the Senate for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, as legislation requires 60 votes to advance in the Senate. With Democrats holding a 50-seat majority, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowsi is the only one in her party who supports the bill, meaning that it would fall far short of the 60-vote threshold required to move the bill forward.
Activists and political pundits have all called on Senate Democrats to eliminate the filibuster, which would allow legislation to advance with a simple majority. However, that does not seem to be moving forward positively.
With so many factors against the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Joyce Beatty and her demonstrators won’t stop until positive gains are made.