“Today, I stand in solidarity with black women across the country in defending our constitutional right to vote,” Beatty said in a statement Thursday. “We have gone too far and fought too hard for everything to be systematically dismantled and restricted by those who wish to silence our voice. ”
Capitol Police said the group was arrested for breaking a DC law that prohibits “crowding, obstruction or inconvenience.”
The buildings that make up the Capitol complex are still closed to most visitors, but members and staff can escort guests inside. The group had initially gathered near the Capitol in a church building in what participants called a “Voting Rights Day of Action” with black women, allies and advocates urging the Senate to pass two key laws – a sprawling Democrat Electoral Reform Bill and John Lewis’ Voting Rights Act.
The larger Democratic bill is mostly blocked in Congress after Republicans in the Senate obfuscated the bill. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a letter to House Democrats on Thursday that the House would continue work on the voting rights legislation appointed by John Lewis – a bill aimed at restoring a part of landmark legislation overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013. This old law limited certain states and localities, most in the southern United States, requiring them to seek federal approval before changing certain election laws. Legislation is a top priority for the Black Caucus, and the group called on the House to reintroduce the bill before the August recess.
But she, too, faces a grim future in the 50-50 Senate, where a previous version had the support of only one Republican co-sponsor, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
Arrests of members of Congress inside the Capitol complex are rare, although Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) Was also arrested during a 2018 protest at the Hart Senate office building .
Beatty herself is no stranger to protest. She and other officials were pepper sprayed during protests against the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.
Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.