Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson, activists arrested during voting rights protest

Johnson was among a group of Black men arrested Thursday on Capitol Hill and released.

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Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia was among a group of Black men arrested on Capitol Hill Thursday at a voting rights protest. 

Johnson, 66, among a group of Black men cuffed on Capitol Hill Thursday, is the second member of Congress arrested recently in support of federal action to support voting rights. 

Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson (center) is arrested by U.S. Capitol Police during a “Brothers Day of Action on Capitol Hill” protest event outside Hart Senate Office Building Thursday in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

At an event called “Brothers Day of Action on Capitol Hill,” Johnson linked arms with nine other activists — among them Black Voters Matter’s Cliff Albright, whose group organized the protest; the Rev. Mark Thompson, Color of Change president Rashad Robinson and former NAACP president Cornell William Brooks — and chanted, “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! The filibuster has got to go!” 

They blocked the entrance to the Hart Senate Office Building and were subsequently arrested by Capitol Police for “unlawfully demonstrating,” charged with “crowding, obstructing or incommoding.” 

All 10 men were processed and released. 

Johnson’s spokesman Andy Phelan said in a statement, “In the spirit of his dear friend and mentor — the late Congressman John Lewis — Rep. Johnson was getting in ‘good trouble’ fighting for and protecting civil and voting rights for all Americans.” 

Federal legislation has been named after Lewis and has already passed in the House, but seems likely to fail in the Senate unless at least 10 Republicans support the bill, which is not expected.

The For the People Act would change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, ban partisan gerrymandering, increase safeguards against foreign interference and create new ethics rules for federal office holders.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act restores and strengthens parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, certain portions of which have been struck down by the Supreme Court. It provides federal oversight of changes that states make to voter requirements, including voter ID laws, which have been the cornerstone of the restrictive efforts underway in states like Georgia. 

As previously reported, Vice President Kamala Harris is in talks with some GOP senators to try to drum up support for the legislation. 

Earlier this week, Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty was arrested at a peaceful protest calling for Congress to pass voting rights legislation. The Democrat is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. 

“I stand in solidarity with Black women and allies across the country in defense of our constitutional right to vote,” Beatty said in a statement after her arrest. “We have come too far and fought too hard to see everything systematically dismantled and restricted by those who wish to silence us. Be assured this is just the beginning. This is our power. Our message.”

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