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. The measure also would impose federal mandates for nonpartisan congressional redistricting and public campaign financing.
They also called for Senate passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“I stand in solidarity with Black women and allies across the country in defense of our constitutional right to vote,” Beatty said in a statement regarding her arrest. “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 statement was titled “Getting into Good Trouble, Defending Voting Rights,” a nod to the late congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) who repeatedly urged the next generation of activists to get into “good trouble.”
The protesters called on Senate Democrats, who with Vice President Harris as tie-breaker hold a one-vote majority, to eliminate the 60-vote-threshold filibuster and pass the bills to counter laws enacted by Republican legislatures across the country.
“The filibuster silences our votes and our voices,” said Deborah Scott, who traveled from Georgia to participate in the protest. “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, executive director of a group called Georgia STAND-UP, was not arrested and cheered fellow protesters as they were put in vans.
“We will be back,” she vowed.
In a statement, the U.S. Capitol Police said nine people were arrested for demonstrating in a prohibited area on the Capitol grounds.
The police said officers responded to reports of an illegal demonstration. “After officers arrived on the scene, they warned the demonstrators three times to stop. Those who refused were arrested,” the statement said.
Two men and seven women were taken to Capitol Police headquarters for processing, the police said.