U.S. Capitol Police arrested eight Democratic congressmen on Tuesday as they took part in a pro-amnesty rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. during the government shutdown.
Police scattered barricades adorned with “closed” signs across the Mall, but 15,000 pro-amnesty supporters ignored them with relative impunity and set up an enormous stage and three portable TV screens, according to the Washington Times.
Police took Georgia Rep. John Lewis, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, Illinois Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Jan Schakowsky, Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, New York Reps. Charles Rangel and Joseph Crowley and Texas Rep. Al Green in custody during the rally, along with two hundred attendees, charging them with “crowding, obstructing, and incommoding.” In a speech, Gutierrez had pledged to go to jail for the deported parents of immigrant children born in the U.S., ABC News reports.
Rangel reportedly gave spectators a thumbs up as police handcuffed him.
Amid a partial gap in non-essential government spending that has seen Park Service officials barricade bike paths; remove private property owners from their homes and businesses; and detain tourists at Yellowstone National Park, the illegal immigration supporters were given wide leeway to demonstrate on federal land and arrange photogenic acts of civil disobedience.
Unlike the World II veterans in wheelchairs who had to storm the barricades erected around their memorial last week, pro-amnesty supporters met little police resistance at first. A single National Park Service ranger wandered about the rally, but left after the Washington Times asked why she was called into work.