Photo credit: Jo Freeman


On November 17, roughly 200 people were arrested in front of the White House at a rally for Voting Rights.

This was the fifth action in a series of DC protests by a coalition of groups that are pushing for the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill to become law.  These groups include People for the American Way, the League of Women Voters, the Declaration for American Democracy, Black Voters Matter, and the Democracy Initiative.  

They demonstrated outside the White House to demand that President Biden take action.  The House passed the bill on August 24, 2021, by a vote of 219–212.  It still needs to be passed by the Senate before it can be sent to President Biden to be signed into law.

Those who wanted to be arrested stood on the White House side of Pennsylvania Ave.  While they waited, they spoke about their reasons for protesting and the importance of more legislation to protect the right to vote.

Supporters who didn’t want to be arrested watched from across the street.  

The amplifiers were on the north side of the street.  Most of the speakers were on the south side.

They were given the usual three warnings before the U.S. Park Police marched one or more away.  

Large banners and signs on sticks were taken by the Park Police.  Protestors were allowed to keep small signs without sticks.

Arrestees were taken to a tent further down the street to be processed and given a summons. Then they were released.

These actions have become institutionalized.  The protestors work with the U.S. Park Police to arrange who will be arrested and who won’t.  Barricades kept those not being arrested on the north side of Pennsylvania Plaza, in Lafayette Park.

After the action was over, the Police removed the barricades and returned the protestors’ signs so that they could be used again.



Jo Freeman is a feminist scholar and author.


Copyright © 2021 by Jo Freeman

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