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Rep. Jamaal Bowman arrested during voting-rights protest near Capitol, spokesman says

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) is detained by U.S. Capitol Police while supporting voting rights protesters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2022. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg)

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) was arrested Thursday while participating in a voting-rights protest near the Capitol, according to a spokesman.

The news comes one day after Senate Republicans rejected an attempt by Democrats to change the chamber’s rules, effectively killing a year-long Democratic effort to pass federal voting rights legislation.

Marcus Frias, Bowman’s director of communications, said the congressman “was arrested alongside at least 20 others, including faith leaders and youth who have been hunger striking for our democracy.”

“Today, Congressman Jamaal Bowman joined a voting rights non-violent direct action at the North Barricade of the U.S. Capitol Building and was arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police,” Frias said in a statement. “We will provide more information and updates as we gather them.”

After Senate Republicans blocked federal voting rights legislation for a fifth time on Jan. 19, voting rights activists are still hopeful something can be done. (Video: Mahlia Posey/The Washington Post)

The Capitol Police said in a statement posted to their Twitter feed that they began making arrests because demonstrators had “started blocking one side of the North Barricade outside the U.S. Capitol” shortly before noon and “refused to move out” after three warnings.

They made a total of 27 arrests for “crowding, obstructing or incommoding” and one arrest for violating a crowd-control regulation, according to the statement. A Capitol Police spokesperson did not specify whether Bowman was among those arrested.

The battle over voting rights has been brewing since Democrats won congressional majorities a year ago as Republican legislatures in 19 states — many spurred by former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election — embarked on a campaign to roll back election access.

Bowman said in a statement Friday that he will continue to protest for voting rights “again and again and again” because “now is the time to put it all on the line.”

“I will keep doing everything in my power to bring attention to the crisis we are in and ensure our democracy functions in a manner that represents the people,” Bowman said. He added: “The Senate’s vote is not the end of this battle. If we all don’t stand up right now and fight for our democracy, we might lose it forever.”

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.