Mayor and Councilmembers arrested in protest of budget deal

Photo by The Georgetown Dish
Mayor Vincent Gray arrested during Hill protest
Mayor Vincent Gray arrested during Hill protest

Mayor Vincent Gray, Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D) and five other councilmembers brought the fight for D.C. home rule and democracy to Congress yesterday when they were arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police as they blocked traffic on Constitution Avenue, NE.  They were protesting last week’s White House-congressional agreement to prohibit the District from spending its own money on abortions for low-income women and revive private school vouchers as part of deal to keep the federal government open.

Councilmembers Wells and Biddle under arrest (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Councilmembers Wells and Biddle under arrest
Gray said the treatment of D.C. by Congress was like someone looking into your pocket and seeing how much money you have and then telling you how to send it.  “D.C. deserves to be free,” he said. “All we want to do is spend our own money. Why should women in the District of Columbia be subjected to a set of rules that no other woman is subjected to? If we want a school voucher program, we should choose it ourselves.”

Councilmember Yvette Alexander, Ward 7, yells for an aide to get her ID. (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Councilmember Yvette Alexander, Ward 7, yells for an aide to get her ID.
Georgetown ANC Commissioner Bill Starrels joined the approximately 200 demonstrators as Councilmembers Yvette M. Alexander (Ward 7), Tommy Wells (Ward 6), Sekou Biddle (at-large), Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) and Michael A. Brown (at-lLarge) were also arrested, along with 34 other protesters. "By getting arrested in today's protest, the Mayor made a bold statement. Let's hope the President and Congress listen," Starrels said.  it was a warm, late afternoon spring day as the crowd chanted,  “hey, hey, ho, ho, the DC riders have got to go” and “this is what democracy looks like.”   The supporters filled both sides of the street besides the Dirksen Senate office building. 

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans tweeted "Regret I was unable to join my colleagues & Mayor today for voting rights. I applaud them for their courage."

Early Tuesday morning, Gray, Chairman Kwame Brown and Councilmember Michael Brown were released.  “We needed to make a statement that what happened in the budget process is just unacceptable,” Gray told reporters and supporters. “It’s time for the people of the District of Columbia to stand up and say we want to be treated like anybody else.”

Another arrested councilmember, Muriel Bowser, addressed President Obama: “I’ve got to tell you I’m disappointed in my president,” she said. “If you don’t choose us, we won’t choose you.”

Councilmember Muriel Bowser, Ward 4, is photographed as part of the arrest (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Councilmember Muriel Bowser, Ward 4, is photographed as part of the arrest

Washington Post reporter Mike Debonis  reports that, Gray said he was "hungry" and heading to Horace and Dickie's. Councilmember Wells said, via Twitter, “Finally got home at 4:45 am. Nobody knows the troubles I've seen...”

The last time a DC mayor was arrested was 1993 when Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly, Jesse Jackson and others were jailed for blocking traffic on the House side of Capitol Hill in a demonstration for DC statehood.


Closing down Consitution Avenue in front of Hart Building (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Closing down Consitution Avenue in front of Hart Building

Then Mayor Kelly arrested in protest in 1993 (Photo by: archives) Then Mayor Kelly arrested in protest in 1993


0 Comments For This Article

Karen A. Szulgit

I am very proud of my mayor -- "Governor" Vince Gray -- and Council Chairman Kwame Brown, Councilmembers Yvette Alexander, Sekou Biddle, Michael A. Brown, Muriel Bowser, Tommy Wells, and the 34 other freedom fighters for their display of courage facing congressional interference of DC's budget. Washingtonians deserve self-determination. FREE DC -- Statehood Now!


This kind of behavior has gained the District no favors in the past and is the reason there isn't serious consideration being given by Congress to "statehood." The District can't regulate itself or its elected officials who now have arrest records. Vincent Gray, Kwame Brown and the Members of Council who were arrested yesterday are on the DO NOT REELECT list.

DC need to elect a Mayor and Council Chair who are leaders. Four months into this administration and barely one day without some new charge.

Kudos to those Members of Council who had the good judgment to remain at the Wilson Building.

Kasse Rempel

It takes a stand to get noticed. Thank you Mayor Gray for standing up for the people of DC.

Concerned Voter

What a waste of time. Vincent Gray and the council members should be focusing on cutting the city's massive budget deficit. Frankly, the picture of Gray on the front page of The Washington Post was embarrassing. He looks like an angry child.

If the city council wants statehood, a better way to make the case would be to show they know how to manage a city budget. They do not. the city payroll is bloated, the city is violating its own procedures on the leasing and purchasing of vehicles.

Come on now. Do they really expect Congress and the White House to take them seriously?


How convenient that these sleezy politicians use an important issue to try to resurrect their reputations. They should be arrested for election fraud, nepotism, and stealing government funds instead.


I think the mayor and council member would use their time better by working on their bloated budget. The spending on the 2012 DC budget must be cut. The city payroll is too big. This demonstration was a waste of time and kept the mayor and council members from addressing the important work before them.


Amen from Maine. If enough people from enough places throughout the country stand up for what is right, maybe we'll get through to enough members of Congress to get back to the business of representing the people, not special interests. Every vote counts. And with enough votes, we can get them out in 2012.