Prominent activists Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. William Barber II have been arrested during a sit-in at Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s office in Phoenix, according to fellow protesters.
Jackson and Barber took part in the protest on Monday with the full intent of being arrested, in order to draw attention to their demand to abolish the Senate filibuster, according to organizers.
Activist Erika Andiola, a former spokeswoman for Senator Bernie Sanders‘ 2016 presidential campaign, said on Twitter that at least 30 people had been arrested in the sit-in, including Jackson and Barber.
A Phoenix Police Department spokesman was unable to immediately confirm the arrests when reached by DailyMail.com.
Rev. William Barber II posted a photo that appeared to show him wearing loosely fitting flex-cuffs as he sat in the front seat of a car during the protest in Phoenix
Jackson (left) and Barber (right) are seen above in file photos. Activists said they were among 30 arrested in a demonstration in Phoenix on Monday
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, has been outspoken in her opposition to eliminating the filibuster (file photo)
Jackson is a longtime activist on the national stage, and Barber is a prominent advocate on racial injustice issues from North Carolina, where he gained fame for his ‘Moral Mondays’ demonstrations every week at the state capitol in Raleigh.
On Monday, Barber posted a photo that appeared to show him wearing loosely fitting flex-cuffs as he sat in the front seat of a car. ‘We’ve got to get these shackles off of our democracy,’ he wrote.
The demonstrators in Phoenix were seeking to put pressure on Sinema, a moderate Democrat, to support abolishing the filibuster, which she has resisted.
Democrats hope to pass a sweeping bill on election laws, and with the Senate split 50-50, many view eliminating the filibuster as the only viable path to achieving their goals.
Under the current rules, it often takes 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, and eliminating the procedural rule would allow Democrats to pass their agenda unobstructed, assuming they voted as a bloc.
Monday’s protest started with a march from Kachina Park, located on Campbell Avenue and 42nd Street, and ended at Sinema’s Phoenix office.
Barber is a prominent advocate on racial injustice from North Carolina, where he gained fame for his ‘Moral Mondays’ demonstrations
Demonstrators are seen joining the protest on Monday in Phoenix near Sinema’s office
Monday’s protest started with a march from Kachina Park, located on Campbell Avenue and 42nd Street, and ended at Sinema’s Phoenix office
Sinema has been outspoken in her opposition to eliminating the filibuster.
In June, she said she opposes abolishing the filibuster because it is ‘a tool that protects the democracy of our nation rather than allowing our country to ricochet wildly every two to four years back and forth between policies.’
‘When you have a system that’s not working effectively – and I think most would agree the Senate is not exactly a well-oiled machine – the way to fix that is to change your behavior, not to eliminate the rules,’ said Sinema.
Her views have drawn prior protests at her local office, including one last month that resulted in arrests.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another moderate Democrat, has also said he opposes eliminating the filibuster rule.
President Joe Biden also dismissed the idea of eliminating the filibuster during a CNN town hall in Cincinnati on Wednesday night, warning that doing so would ‘throw the entire Congress into chaos’ where ‘nothing at all would get done.’
Biden said eliminating the filibuster would throw Congress into ‘chaos’ and distract from passing other items on Democrats’ agenda
Speaking at an invite-only event moderated by Don Lemon, Biden was accused by a first year law student of ‘doing little to actually stop’ Republican ‘assaults’ on voting rights legislation after a GOP filibuster killed Democrats’ push to pass Biden’s For The People Act.
‘If these efforts are really the most dangerous in out history,’ he asked, citing Biden’s own words, ‘Isn’t it logical to get rid of the filibuster so we can protect our democracy and secure the right to vote?’
At one point Lemon joined in pressing the president, to which he snapped ‘Let me finish my answer.’
Biden previously signaled he may be open to nixing the filibuster when Democrats failed to win a super majority to pass his bill to strengthening voting rights, which ended with a 50-50 vote – 10 votes shy of overcoming a Republican filibuster.
Democrats would need to win a 60-vote ‘super majority’ to overcome Republican efforts to indefinitely stall the bill via a filibuster.