The Washington Post

Civil disobedience for me but not for thee?

Mayor Vincent C. Gray appeared on NewsChannel 8 this morning for this regular appearance on Bruce DePuyt’s “NewsTalk” show, where he was quizzed on the planned July 4 march of gun-law protesters armed with loaded rifles.

“First of all, I heartily support, like everybody else, the right to assemble — that’s a constitutionally guaranteed right,” he said. “I don’t support people breaking the law in order to make that point.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa — breaking the law to make a point? You mean like  civil disobedience? You mean like obstructing rush-hour traffic on Capitol Hill to make a point about congressional restrictions on District government expenditures? That kind of “breaking the law to make a point”?

Gray, you’ll recall, was one of 41 voting-rights activists arrested by Capitol Police more than two years ago for blocking Constitution Avenue NE — part of a protest opposing a congressional budget deal that would restrict D.C. abortion funding.

But Hizzoner did not acknowledge his personal arrest record in addressing the July 4 plans, which Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier has pledged to meet with force: “They talk about bringing loaded rifles into the city, and everybody will be peaceful,” Gray said. “I don’t trust that, and again, it’s a violation of the law.”

Mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro this afternoon made the distinction that his boss neglected to make on the air: “There’s a difference between going in front of the Capitol Building to stop traffic and marching down the street with a loaded firearm in a jurisdiction that doesn’t allow it. Those are two very different things.”

In other televised comments, Gray reacted to news that a federal judge had thrown out a challenge to D.C. Public Schools closings, calling the lawsuit “a disservice to the children of the District of Columbia.” He said that if the plaintiffs continue their suit, it would “clearly” be a distraction for the school system.

Gray also briefly discussed the death Wednesday of his only sibling, an older brother, who had been sick for some time. “It was like having a third parent,” he said. “I grew up in a very challenging neighborhood, in some respects, and it was great to have an older brother who was very wise, very smart. He was an aeronautical engineer by training. … He will be missed, to say the least.”

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.



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Mike DeBonis · May 16, 2013

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