Rep. Joyce Beatty
Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus is taken into custody by U.S. Capitol Police officers in the Hart Senate Office Building, after a demonstration supporting the voting rights, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, 15 Jul 2021. (Jose Luis Magana/AP/Shutterstock)

Rep. Joyce Beatty and Voting Rights Activists Arrested During Peaceful Protest in Senate Building

Protests continue across the nation’s capital in an effort to rein in racist anti-voter legislation taking place in states such as Texas, Florida, and Georgia. And now, those efforts have progressed to the level where elected officials are getting arrested for supporting every American citizen’s right to fairly and legally cast a vote.

Reporter Vanessa Williams from The Washington Post writes that Rep. Joyce Beatty, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, was among a group of protestors and social activists arrested in a Senate office building on Thursday, July 15. The group had gathered to protest a growing number of states’ anti-voter “reform” laws — efforts that are ultimately a racist attack on the right to vote for Democrats and further disenfranchise people of color and underrepresented groups.

According to Williams, Beatty joined leaders from several voting rights groups to demonstrate in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building before being arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police.

“Speakers voiced frustration that the Senate has not passed the For the People Act, a far-reaching bill that would provide minimum standards for early voting, vote-by-mail and automatic voter registration, overriding many of the provisions in new Republican state laws,” Williams reported.

The group also demanded that the Senate pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, “which would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” including requiring states to pre-clear changes to their voting laws with the federal government.

Finally, Beatty and other protestors called for Senate Democrats and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, in particular, to unite with Vice President Kamala Harris and commit to the end of the 60-vote-threshold filibuster. If eliminated or reshaped in some fashion, the end of the filibuster would allow Senate Democrats to pass the voting reform with the support of other Republicans.

In a statement following her arrest, Beatty said. “I stand in solidarity with Black women and allies across the country in defense of our constitutional right to vote. We have come too far and fought too hard to see everything systematically dismantled and restricted by those who wish to silence us. Be assured this is just the beginning. This is our power. Our message.”

“The filibuster silences our votes and our voices,” added Deborah Scott, executive director of a group called Georgia STAND-UP. “What we did in Georgia is being affected. We turned the vote out, and now to see Congress not fight for our rights means, we had to come here.”

Scott was involved in the D.C. protests but was not among those who were arrested.

Beatty’s statement was titled “Getting into Good Trouble, Defending Voting Rights,” as a tribute to Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who passed away in 2020. Lewis was famous for repeatedly telling upcoming generations of activists that they needed to get into “good trouble.”

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

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