Over 200 activists, politicians and religious leaders are being arrested right now in Washington D.C. during Camino Americano, a massive protest on the National Mall supporting immigration reform. Among those already arrested were Congressman Joe Crowley, who represents New York’s 14th Congressional District, Congressman Charlie Rangel, who represents the 13th, and Charlie Rangel’s splendid mustache, which stands only for itself.
The protest and subsequent arrests were planned long before the government shutdown, but people still managed to work the shutdown into their protest signs. One read “Congress may not work, but immigrants will.”
The march was hosted by a number of labor groups and advocacy organizations, including the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Unite Here!, CASA de Maryland, the Alliance for Citizenship, the Center for Community Change, and the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts. It was intended to encourage the House to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, one which passed the Senate back in June. The bill would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, while also increasing security along the U.S.-Mexico border. (The Republican-dominated House is unlikely to pass that bill ever, according to comments both public and private by Speaker John Boehner.)
After a concert and rally, the marchers proceeded down the street before sitting down in front of the Capitol and waiting politely to be arrested.
Six other representatives were also arrested during the protest; according to the Daily News, Rangel argued with Capitol police during his arrest, requesting that they loosen his cuffs and “arguing about the process.” Several other New York organizations were represented among the arrestees, including the New York Immigration Coalition and Make the Road New York. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, was also arrested.
Although the Congress members got most of the press, the members of two unions had the largest numbers of arrestees: LIUNA, which represents construction workers, and Unite Here!, which represents employees from the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries. The two groups had about 30 members each who were taken into custody.
Rangel’s spokesperson Hannah Kim said it would be four to five hours before the protesters were released. We’ll hazard a guess that the elected officials will be sprung first, followed by everybody else.
Update, October 9: Rangel and the other members of Congress left the D.C. jail around 4 p.m. The last of the other protesters weren’t released until around 9 this morning.
This article has been updated with a complete list of the event’s sponsors and estimated arrest numbers.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 8, 2013