Eight Members of Congress Arrested in Demonstration

Handcuffs

Eight members of Congress were arrested yesterday in an act of civil disobedience.

The arrests occurred at a rally in favor of immigration reform near the Capitol building.

I would imagine that most of the other protestors had to come from a distance — probably some of them a great distance — to participate in this rally. But Reps John Lewis (D-GA), Luis Guiterrez (D-Ill), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz), Keith Ellison (D-Mn), Joseph Crowley and Charles Rangel (both D-NY) were able to walk over from their offices.

The immigration reform bill in question is in the House of Representatives’ intensive care unit, awaiting its final dispatch. The Republican leadership of the House has refused to allow the bill to come to a vote. I have no idea if it would pass if it was voted on. I do know that Hispanics voted pretty much as a block for President Obama in 2012, and by doing so swung some major electoral states to his column.

Based informally on the many Hispanic voters I know in my district, I can say that the reason for this — at least among the people I know — was the hostility toward them exhibited by the Republican party. I am speaking of Oklahoma when I say that.

Anti-Hispanic demagoguery masquerading as a concern for immigration reform was a basis of the GOP electoral campaigning here in Oklahoma for much of the first decade of this century. This has pushed Hispanic people to the Democrats. The irony is, that, as small business owners and traditional Christians with a strong family orientation, they have a lot in common with the populist wing of the Republican Party.

However, when people attack you directly, as the Rs have attacked Hispanics here in Oklahoma, it tends to focus your attention.

Based on the 2012 election results, I would say that this Oklahoma situation has a national echo. If that’s true, then it explains the House leadership reasoning for not allowing this bill to come to a vote. Any vote at all will put Republican House members on record on what is a difficult issue for them. If they vote for the bill, they will alienate the voters who have supported them because of their prior positions. If they vote against it, they risk entrenching the feeling among a large and growing segment of the electorate that thinks they hate them.

So … the smart political move is to deep-six the bill. That way, the leadership takes the heat and the membership is shielded.

I believe that is what has happened to this bill.

As for the Congressmen who were arrested yesterday, I can’t look into their hearts to say whether they were making a political statement, a moral statement, or both. It is a statement — and a strong one — either way.

What is interesting is the situation we are in where the government is shut down and members of Congress — who should have the power to speak out in other ways — take to the streets over legislation. Is the minority that hamstrung in the House of Representatives? If the leadership has pushed things to the point that minority members feel called to do something like this to make their point, then there is something rotten in the House. I would say that no matter which party was in control. It’s a matter of democracy.

Were they just demagoguing, or is the House that over-controlled and partisan?

I hope you discuss this question, but please, no name-calling or ugliness. Let’s leave the partisan hatred that is scarring and damaging our country in DC.

From the Journal Star:

At least eight Democratic members of the House were among about 200 people arrested Tuesday after they blocked a main street near the Capitol during a massive rally seeking to push Republicans to hold a vote on a stalled immigration reform bill.

Police would not identify those arrested. Representatives of the social policy organization Center for Community Change and The Associated Press witnessed the arrests of Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga.; Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill.; Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz.; Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; Joseph Crowley and Charles Rangel, both D-N.Y.; Al Green, D-Texas; and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.,

Representatives of other groups whose members attended the rally, such as United Farm Workers and Farmworker Justice, confirmed that several of their members were arrested as well.

Those arrested will be charged with “crowding, obstructing and incommoding” under the local laws of the District of Columbia, the Capitol Police said. The arrests began about 4 p.m. EDT and had ended two hours later, police said in a statement.

Before being arrested, Gutiérrez said he planned the act of civil disobedience “so the speaker of the House can free Congress and finally pass immigration reform.”

 

 

Read more: http://www.pjstar.com/free/x1868848977/Police-arrest-8-House-members-at-immigration-rally#ixzz2hEXMiGAX

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    “However, when people attack you directly, as the Rs have attacked Hispanics here in Oklahoma, it tends to focus your attention.”
    How have the Rs attacked Hispanics directly?

    • hamiltonr

      How much time do you have?
      They used attacks on “illegal immigrants” in campaigns to win elections. Many of these attacks showed sinister looking hispanics in shadows as they broke into houses and did drug deals. They were inflammatory and racist to the core.
      They also passed one piece of anti-hispanic (the debates were all about hispanics; nobody else) legislation after another that were so bad that the priests of the diocesan priest council unanimously signed a letter saying that they would go to jail rather than fail to minister to illegal immigrants. None of this did one thing deal with illegal immigration.
      It was all cruel, racist, grandstanding that terrified people and created an environment of racial hatred where it hadn’t been there before. I know for a fact that the people who pushed this stuff did it for political reasons. They told me.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        OK, I have not seen that sort of thing in this part of the country. That is deplorable. However, illegal immigration is a legitament issue.

        • hamiltonr

          Yes it is. But if we want to fix it, we need to look at more than our internal policies. Our policies toward Mexico are a factor that no one wants to talk about.

  • Andy

    I think that for some issues merely making a speech is not sufficient – one must stand up to power for those not in power. I have read that both parities when in power do their best to keep the minority out of the structures for legislation – the so-called Hastert (sp) rule.

  • SisterCynthia

    Primarily I see this as painless grandstanding, since they will not face any fallout from their arrests, nor will it change how things are being done in the House, it only gets their pictures in the paper and lets them promote themselves back home as having “done something.” As for the political bun-covering you suggest is going on in the House, that is certainly possible. The Senate is also known to refuse to vote on things where it would put their leading party in a bind with the folks at home by making them go on record as standing for/against something an opponent could call them out on. Not being in OK, I can’t speak to racist issues there. Being married to an immigrant, I do know those of us going thru the bureaucratic mess of immigration would like to see it streamlined–it is too complicated, inefficient, and tedious, and the skill requirements and number caps don’t reflect the needs of the country for unskilled labor. Let’s face it, no American who can sit on Welfare, Section 8, etc., is going to turn down those things to go pick veggies or fruit in the blazing sun for 10+hrs a day, seven days a week, moving around the country to follow the various harvests, since they’ve been taught hard work is beneath them and, pragmatically speaking, the money would probably be less than what they can sign up for. That said, having those who have simply slipped over the border and broken law after law to be here illegally made equal with those who have waited years and followed the law and spent thousands of dollars to do things “by the book” does not sit well with us, either. Realistically, as polarized as the country is (on about everything), no matter what kind of bill got passed, there would be fallout for someone–currently, the Reps don’t want to take it for being “too soft” and the Dems don’t want to take it for not wrangling something generous enough. So, here we are. As usual, with nothing getting done.

  • http://unfolded.sentinelmx.net/ E Hanson

    Interesting… So it’s a bad thing when the Republicans hold the Senate and therefore few Democratic-led initiatives pass, but it’s also the Republicans’ fault for Republican-led initiatives failing to pass the Democrat-held Senate?
    This is a bad situation regardless of your political leaning. Having diversity of opinion like this should be a good thing that leads to discussion and compromise, not one side getting everything it wants in one house of congress and getting shot down in the other.

    • Andy

      Maybe the problem is that we now have the permanent political class – they worry only about being re-elected and do not want to face a hostile primary or even hard questions during their campaign. Maybe this is a time for term limits – 4 terms for a Representative, 2 terms for a senator and 1 six year term for the president. Lets limit the amount of money that can be spent to support a candidate. Also lets build a large dormitory for the senators and members of the house and say this is where you live while in Washington.
      The unwillingness to compromise and to see that politics is not a winner-take-all event has to stop, but I don’t know where or how?

      • http://unfolded.sentinelmx.net/ E Hanson

        Not bad. Good on you for trying to find solutions.
        I honestly think that the power to limit the effectiveness of campaign contributions is within the voting public. WE choose how much we let commercials and the like affect us.
        Combine less pliable, free-thinking voting minds with better lobbying rules and we’ll be in a better place. Not perfect, but it’d be a good start.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    I wish I felt happier about this kind of thing. In Italy we have a terrible problem with immigration, especially with two groups, Gypsies and Romanians. A recent international police investigation has shown that Romanian organized crime has set itself up to take advantage of the EU and open borders, moving teams of criminals from country to country. In Italy, something like this had long been suspected, but if an Italian said something like “the Romanians are getting rid of their dregs by sending them to us,” he would have been silenced and called a racist. The perception that something really bad was happening was silenced until it had happened. I don’t think our people are racist by nature, either; when a Romanian proves a decent fellow, we welcome, employ, work with, and sometimes celebrate him – http://fpb.livejournal.com/660310.html .But when up to a third of our jails are crowded by a single nationality, what are we to say?

    As for the Gypsies, forget what they may have been in the past or in folk memory. You have to make up your mind that here is a whole population dedicated to petty crime. Rome, in particular, is almost under siege, literally surrounded by Gypsy “camps” from which children and adults spread out every day to beg and steal. Gypsies don’t send their children to school; instead they teach them bag-snatching, bag-cutting and pickpocketing. It has got so bad that the people of the city live with a constant eye over their shoulder. And still the media don’t speak of it. Ordinary Italian citizens feel they are being persecuted and robbed in their own country and that they have no recourse.

    When the Pope went to Lampedusa and criticized everyone there for their hard-heartedness and insensitivity, most Italians rolled their eyes. That sort of thing may make sense in Argentina, but in Italy it means that you don’t know what is going on. There is no work in Italy, even for Italians, much more so for the millions of strangers being still taken to our country day by day by murderous organized gangs and Libyan terrorists. Most of them end up trying to make their own work somehow, selling all kinds of cheap stuff in the streets (a very insulting word for an immigrant is “vu’ cumpra’”, “Wanna-buy”), but a considerable minority start looking for the gold they have been told in the pockets of the locals.

    Uncontrolled immigration is a pestilence, and there is no need for politicians to paint it worse than it is. To the contrary, the reflex among politicians, journalists and other society leaders is to tend to escape any real attempt to grapple with its realities, and leave it to angry citizens and extremist demagogues.


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