The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Joyce Beatty, was arrested on Thursday on Capitol Hill along with eight activists who were demonstrating for voting rights.
“You can arrest me. You can’t stop me. You can’t silence me,” Ms. Beatty, an Ohio Democrat, wrote in a tweet after her arrest by the U.S. Capitol Police in the atrium of a Senate office building. A reporter on the scene noted on Twitter that her hands had been bound with zip ties before she was led away.
The Capitol Police said in a statement that the protesters had violated a Washington law against crowding or blocking streets or certain spaces in public buildings. The protesters were warned before they were detained, the police said.
Ms. Beatty and a group of activists were protesting the languishing of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act in Congress. The two bills aim in part to protect and expand access to voting, but both are facing long odds of becoming law.
Democrats, who have narrow congressional majorities and need Republican votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, have expressed frustration for months over their inability to pass their expansive voting overhauls as Republican state legislatures rush to pass laws that restrict voting rights across the country.
President Biden this week called the fight against restrictive voting laws the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War,” even as he seemed to acknowledge that the legislation had little hope of passing.
In a statement after her arrest, Ms. Beatty remained defiant.
“I stand in solidarity with Black women and allies across the country in defense of our constitutional right to vote,” she said. “We have come too far and fought too hard to see everything systematically dismantled and restricted by those who wish to silence us.”