A dozen protestors locked arms and patiently waited on June 25 to be arrested in front of a restricted part of the White House. D.C. activists and leaders called on President Barack Obama to help a city tired of being used a bargaining chip among elected officials.
“You know I support Obama, but how can you go around the world and preach democracy and can’t clean up your own backyard,” said Dangelo Scott, who is known as No. 6 of the “DC 41,” a group arrested in a home-rule protest earlier this year.
“When I look and see everyone else in the country, they have rights, but we in D.C. do not have the same rights as everyone else in the country … that is hypocrisy,” he said.”
A short-term spending measure signed by Obama earlier in April angered residents as the bill included a rider, which has prevented the city from using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions for low-income women. As an upcoming vote on the D.C. spending bill approaches, leaders and residents fear that the Republican-controlled House will include the same ban. Afraid that D.C. might be used as a bargaining chip final negotiations among elected officials and Obama, non-profit D.C. vote organized the event.
“While we appreciate this support from the president, he must publicly call on Congress to remove restrictions on DC’s local funds and commit to take DC off the negotiating table in the future,” stated Ilir Zherka, the executive director of D.C. Vote, in an e-mail sent to supporters.
In the same e-mail, a statement from the White House was included. The administration finally cleared mixed ideas about Obama’s support for D.C.’s autonomy fight.
“The president continues to be an unequivocal supporter of voting rights, home rule and budget autonomy for the District of Columbia. The people of D.C. deserve to have control over their own local affairs,” the White House stated.
Marie Hoffman, a healthcare professional and D.C. resident, said D.C.’s autonomy should not be a political issue, but an issue of fairness. “The right to one vote … to me that’s what Republicans and Democrats have stood for,” Hoffman said. “ really is a colony.”
When asked if local scandals among council members and the mayor have interfered with D.C.’s home-rule fight and abortion ban battle, Hoffman said no. “We have no more corruption that any other locals of the country,” she said.
Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) made special appearances at the protest.
The 12 people were arrested for engaging in civil disobedience in front of the White House gate, according to D.C. Vote. The arrestees were: Trayon White, a Ward 8 DC Board of Education representative; Christina and Dennis Wiley; former youth mayor Markus Batchelor; Philip Pannell; DC Democratic Party Ward 7 Committeeman Juan Thompson; the Rev. Amanda Poppei; Nate Bennett Fleming; Tracy Loh; Ron Swanda; Marcie Cohen and Samantha Scown.