Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. William Barber were among a group of about 20 protesters arrested by US Capitol police on Wednesday (June 23). The civil rights activists took part in the demonstration over the controversial Senate filibuster after federal voting rights legislation was stalled this week by Republicans.
According to WTTG, Rev. Jackson, 79, spoke at the protest organized by the Poor People’s Campaign before leading a march to the Capitol. That’s when Capitol police arrested Revs. Jackson and Barber, co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign, for alleged crowding or obstructing the outlet reported. Penalties the lifelong activists face remain unclear, as well as how long they were held.
Before the march and arrests, Rev. Jackson spoke to protesters, hinting that jail time might be a possibility. “We come not as an insurrection group, but as a resurrection group,” Jackson said, according to Religion News Service. “Today we must fill up the jails,” he added.
Rev. Barber spoke to CNN’s Chris Cuomo later that night, continuing to advocate the importance of voting rights protections.
“We need people to be able to vote freely and fairly. The people led us today, and they said since [Sen. Joseph] Manchin and [Sen. Mitch] McConnell wouldn’t answer them for a meeting… and they said we’re willing to put our bodies on the line. This is not optional. We cannot have voter suppression in this country,” Barber said.
The For The People Act was blocked in the Senate earlier this week after Republicans invoked the filibuster, preventing the elections overhaul legislation from entering the floor for a vote.
The block amassed criticism from Democrats and voting rights activists who accused GOP lawmakers across the country of attempting to disenfranchise Black voters and low income voters through new laws.
Moves to get rid of the filibuster –– a tactic historically implemented by segregationists lawmakers –– have grown louder as the nation continues to reckon with its racist history and the push for equity and rights continues as the midterm election season approaches.