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Crossing the Line
April 27, 2009 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Five US representatives arrested in act of civil disobedience in front of the Sudanese embassy, part of the Save Darfur Coalition's campaign to bring attention to genocide there. One of them, Rep. John Lewis, has seen jail before.
posted by l33tpolicywonk (30 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Full list: Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.).
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:34 AM on April 27, 2009


Good for them!
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:35 AM on April 27, 2009


Bad ass!
posted by PuppyCat at 10:39 AM on April 27, 2009


Correction: Jim McGovern has been arrested at Darfur protests previously, along with Tom Lantos and other members.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:43 AM on April 27, 2009


This is not the first time McGovern has been arrested protesting the Sudanese Embassy.
posted by paxton at 10:47 AM on April 27, 2009


Sorry l33tpolicywonk, should have previewed again.
posted by paxton at 10:47 AM on April 27, 2009


Seconding the kudos for them, but...

When I first turned on my TV today, all I heard was "Five U.S. Representatives arrested" and my immediate, foggy, haven't-had-coffee-yet thought was "Wow, the torture prosecutions are starting!"

So the real news, while awesome and important in its own right, is kind of a let-down.
posted by amyms at 10:50 AM on April 27, 2009


I wrote an open letter to my Representative, Keith Ellison.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:51 AM on April 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


It turns out they crossed a police line.

These are REPRESENTATIVES. WHAT THE FUCK.
posted by kldickson at 11:15 AM on April 27, 2009


Tax dollars, hard at work.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:40 AM on April 27, 2009


I am proud to have Ellison as my Representative in congress. We are lucky to have someone who is willing to go the extra mile for what they (and their constituency) passionately believe in.

I feel like my vote counts today.
posted by autobahn at 11:45 AM on April 27, 2009


Brandon: The House spent this morning, while the five reps were arrested, not meeting. Do you think not getting toothless bills passed would have been a more effective use of their time?

kldickson: Representatives swear to uphold the Constitution, which actually supports a lot of dangerous, revolutionary tendencies. Besides, the intent with civil disobedience is not per se to get arrested, it is to make an important point of conscience by demonstrating to those most responsible for an immoral act, and to accept the consequences therein. Is it more useful to give that message in a floor speech to people who aren't immediately responsible for Darfur?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:47 AM on April 27, 2009


Ellison kind of balances out Bauchmann as far as Representatives from "my" state goes. Can't wait till Michelle is redistricted away.

(I think Ellison recently became the first US politician to go on the Hajji.
posted by edgeways at 11:50 AM on April 27, 2009


Their lawyer seems to have gotten a little off-message, though.
The protesters had hired criminal defense attorney Laura Rhodes to get them out from behind bars. Rhodes seemed pretty confident in her game.

"For those of you anxious about going to jail, I've gotten people out who've killed people," she said.
posted by Guy Smiley at 11:58 AM on April 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yes, they're swearing to uphold the Constitution, but you think they could make a point to use reasoned discourse instead of shouting, which has its place and is definitely pretty necessary in demonstrations, but I really don't think that's where politicians should do their negotiating.
posted by kldickson at 12:04 PM on April 27, 2009


If Ellison had talked about Darfur from the House floor, do you think you would have heard anything about it today?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:05 PM on April 27, 2009


Do you think not getting toothless bills passed would have been a more effective use of their time?

Not sure getting arrested for crossing a police line is very useful, particularly since they're being released in time to vote, which smells like they knew or were pretty sure that would happen.

I applaud the sentiment behind the actions, but was it useful? What's the next step after after getting arrested?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:07 PM on April 27, 2009


I applaud the sentiment behind the actions, but was it useful? What's the next step after after getting arrested?

The publicity will put additional heat on Sudan; it's one thing to pass resolutions, its another to send the message that U.S. lawmakers are so outraged by this that they are willing to be arrested over it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:09 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


...and?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:10 PM on April 27, 2009


Well, perhaps nothing. It's hard to know what Sudan will ignore or won't. It's just one example of the pressure we can out on in the U.S.; there is very little else we can do.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:13 PM on April 27, 2009


Perhaps giving a shit will come back in style. Some people wear the antithesis like a badge of honor. Always makes me rethink my pursuit of the path of nonviolence.

Some of the comments on "liberals" and "Dar who?" are truly infuriating. It was Goldwater who said: I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
Now so called "conservatives" are a bunch of slack jawed conformist punks calling out men who go to jail for what they believe?
These are men and women of integrity and honor. I wouldn't care if they were fanatic advocates of communism, opposition of genocide by such means is a noble act. The more so because of the sacrifice of time, effort and liberty on their part.
Good God how did being a loud ignorant couch bound lickspittle become such a virtue? Ah, yeah, the internet, right.
How many of them gave up - anything - for a cause even 1/100th as important to humanity?
These Representatives clearly know what they believe in and work hard for it.
"The unexamined life is not worth living" - Socrates
posted by Smedleyman at 12:21 PM on April 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


It's hard to know what Sudan will ignore

On the contrary, we know exactly what Sudan will ignore: everything. Just like Burma/Myanmar.

There's a reason for this, and it's on the Security Council. You, and all of your protests, will amount to nothing because you have zero leverage with their patron. Zero.

Every single member of the House could get arrested, and it wouldn't matter one iota except in the media echo-chamber. Members of the Senate could be immolating themselves, and it wouldn't make a difference.
posted by aramaic at 12:46 PM on April 27, 2009


Members of the Senate could be immolating themselves, and it wouldn't make a difference.

We won't know until they try.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:55 PM on April 27, 2009


It would be pretty interesting.
posted by aramaic at 12:56 PM on April 27, 2009


So you have some suggestions, aramaic? I am desperate to know what can be done. And, if nothing, I still side with a forceful show of public disgust at the behavior of the Sudanese government. When we can't change things, we can, at least, register our horror and displeasure.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:57 PM on April 27, 2009


I meant "do", not "so."

"So" sounds confrontational, which was not my intended tone.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:59 PM on April 27, 2009


The fact that the arrests took place at the Sudanese embassy is not an idle point. If you believe that Sudanese diplomats should be held accountable for their country's actions (or, at the very least, have to answer to them in a conversation with national or world leaders), then the members (and other activists, let's not forget) were serving that noble goal by bringing the conversation onto the embassy grounds. If they were not arrested, they surely intended to begin that conversation, in the same way students who engaged in sit-ins intended to be served and were arrested by the choice of the authorities.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:26 PM on April 27, 2009


I'm happy that Rep. Lewis et al. are using my tax dollars on something like this. It's good.

I'm always a little mystified by people who say things like "Why aren't they doing XYZ instead?" I mean, it's entirely possible to do this kind of protest and make a speech on the floor of the House* and call or write to the Sudanese ambassador and hound the U.N. about Darfur, etc.

* If you're an elected representative, that is.
posted by rtha at 1:31 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hmm, I didn't think anyone was actually pro-genocide in the U.S., merely ignorant that the genocide was happening. Then I read some comments on the blog.

Darfur is simply not important and has no strategic value for the US> Not one drop of blood or one penny should be spent on this place. Let them clean up their own garbage.

Liberals being paid by US taxpayers to protest in other countries and not be at work. They should all be fired and replaced in a special election.....

Don't you just love to see your tax dollars being wasted? Liberals protesting in another country while being paid by US taxpayers... They should be fired and be replaced for not being at work.... oh wait you can't fire a liberal- the ACLU would sue.

Stay classy, Republicans.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:22 PM on April 27, 2009


"I'm always a little mystified by people who say things like "Why aren't they doing XYZ instead?""

And typically it's from people who have worn an ass shaped groove into the couch. If it were criticism from someone actually doing something effective, it'd probably be a bit more warranted.

I don't know, what part of "whatever it takes" do people not understand? Perhaps trying will come back in style as well? Trying is pretty good. But boy it sure seems like people love to just warm their ass and snark at, about, on, etc. failure.
It's such a cliche' I can't believe I have to reiterate it:
"It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt
posted by Smedleyman at 7:08 PM on April 27, 2009


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