U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green, along with State Rep. Ron Reynolds are vowing to continue their acts of civil disobedience in an effort to protest for voting rights protections. The Texas lawmakers were in Washington, D.C., where they were raising awareness for voting rights and pushing for the Senate to pass federal voting protections.
Jackson Lee, who was the first arrested last week, said she was speaking out about the Texas GOP push to tighten voter restrictions, and federal legislation named after the late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis.
“It was an emotional moment,” Jackson Lee told Houston Public Media. “Because I am certainly an admirer of the late John Lewis, but we were also friends for 27 years in the United States Congress. And I did protest with him. And I did march with him. And I just believe that he would be stunned as to where we are today.”
Green and Reynolds were at a rally organized by the National Clergy United for Justice that civil rights activists Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton also attended.
Green said that he and his colleagues moved to the street after praying in front of the Supreme Court when they were approached by Capitol police. He said protesters were told they would be arrested if they hadn’t moved after three warnings. According to Green’s office, the lawmakers were arrested on charges of “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding.”
“The state has a long history of voter suppression, and the latest iteration of it involves denying people the right to vote in hours that are convenient to them — when they’re getting off of work,” Green said in reference to one aspect of the GOP-backed voter restrictions, which looks to ban 24-hour voting in the state.
Reynolds is the first Texas House Democrat arrested during the group’s decampment to Washington, D.C. The state lawmakers have been out of Texas for more than three weeks. They’ve spent that time lobbying their federal counterparts to pass voting rights legislation like the For the People Act, which they believe could preempt the proposed voting restrictions back home.
“As the first African American elected State Representative since Reconstruction, I realize that I didn’t get here by myself. I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors who paved the way for me,” Reynolds said. “I was willing to get arrested because it’s necessary to make good trouble to protect my constituents and Texans from the Voter Suppression bills proposed by the Republicans in power. I will continue to fight for passage of federal voting rights legislation in Congress to protect Texans against Jim Crow 2.0. This is the least that I could do for the great sacrifices that many people made to secure passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: including death.”
Jackson Lee says she’s taking her fight to the U.S. Senate next.
“As soon as I finished in civil disobedience, my commitment is to engage with these senators. The Senate needs to do its work. It needs to pass the S1 that is the companion to H1. We may have to go to conference. But there’s no doubt that all the meetings I’ve had with the Texas Democratic delegation where the representative presented really stark stories about voter suppression, including the suppression of young voters in the state of Texas. This is an urgent matter,” she said.