Faith leaders, voting rights activists arrested at White House amid protest

Voting Rally in DC Flickr/ thisisbossi

Various religious leaders and voting rights activists were arrested outside the White House on Tuesday, Oct. 19. The incident was due to the prayers and speeches addressed to President Joe Biden and lawmakers demanding support for voting rights.

Voting Rights Protest Ends To Arrest

Religions News reported that a prominent Georgia pastor named Rev. Jamal Bryant requested God to 'dispatch every available angel' to assign them to all disruptive representatives of democracy.

Rev. Bryant was arrested with former U.S ambassador for international religious freedom, Rabbi David Saperstein, and Alyssa Milano, a dedicated actress-activist.

Immediately prior to their arrest, police warned protesters several times for violating D.C. law  through 'obstructing or incommoding.' 

People for the American, a liberal advocacy group, organized the 1 p.m. protest. The demonstration marks the second protest outside the White House in recent weeks. The group also coordinated similar protests earlier in October. 

Biden Expected To Prioritize Voting Rights

President Joe Biden and the Republican lawmakers had been condemned for opposing the two bills, namely John Lewis Act and the For People Act.

The compromise bill Freedom to Vote Act aims to woo people who disagree on some parts of the John Lewis Act. 

The 50 Democratic U.S. senators advocating the bill were not enough to overrule the Senate filibuster. It lacked Republican advocates to break the required 60-vote supermajority.

Waycross Georgia Rev. Ferrell Malone marked his statement "delivered for the White House" in the 2020 election by electing Biden and assisting Democrats to secure a majority in the U.S. Senate.

Before Saperstein was arrested, he claimed that he had known the president for 40 years. He said that Biden advocates voting rights, the reason why they expect him to prioritize and fight for it above other significant matters.

Rev. Malone said that now marks the time for Biden, Vice President Kamala Haris, the Senate, and the House of Representatives to pay.

Senate Filibuster To Improve Rather Than Eliminate

Numerous speakers called President Biden to support the end of the Senate filibuster as this filibuster hinders his administration's more progressive legislative efforts despite the Democratic majority in Congress. 

Since March, the president and some White House officials have been accepting ways to improve the use of filibusters, though removal was not the idea.

This made protesters tell Biden that 'the filibuster must go.'

Yet, Saperstein, who belonged at Tuesday's protest, cannot really let go of the filibuster.

Saperstein stated that the Jewish community he represented was genuinely committed to voting rights. He said in an interview with Religion News Service that they want improvements to filibuster instead of elimination.

Aside from eliminating the filibuster, several protesters had been requesting the approval of statehood to Washington D.C. This is a Democratic area that would shift the Congress leftward if given voting representation in the Senate and the House.

It had gained popularity this year among religious voting rights activists.

The pastor of Maryland's Mount Ennon Baptist Church, Rev. Delman Coates shares, "'Faith without works is dead.'" He pointed out that what caused the demonstration was due to 'too much silence' regarding voting rights.

The protest ended with supporters raising their fists, singing the civil rights hymn "We Shall Overcome" while being escorted by the police.

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