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Rev. Jesse Jackson arrested protesting Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

Revs. William Barber and Jesse Jackson (left) lead dozens at a sit-in protest outside of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's office in Phoenix.
Revs. William Barber and Jesse Jackson (left) lead dozens at a sit-in protest outside of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's office in Phoenix. Photo: Screenshot/Twitter

Thirty-nine protestors, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Dr. William Barber II, were arrested while protesting outside Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) office in Phoenix.

The protest, a sit-in organized by the Poor People’s Campaign, sought to persuade the out lawmaker to support reform of the filibuster rules in the Senate. That would allow key civil rights legislation like the Equality Act, which Sinema nominally supports, to pass into law.

Related: How Jesse Jackson helped bring gay rights to the Democratic mainstream

The arrests came after the owner of the property where Sinema’s office is located reportedly called the police. All were charged with trespassing and released after brief detainment, the Phoenix police stated.

Rev. Barber, the co-chair of the campaign, organized the “Moral Monday” rally, which started at Kachina Park before the crowd marched to Sinema’s office, inside the Biltmore Talon Center. Rev. Jackson, 79 and four years from a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, led the march of almost two miles.

Rev. Jackson said the protest was necessary as America is amidst a “civilization crisis” with “battle lines drawn,” according to the AP.

“The power’s in you, the people,” he said to the protestors.

Barry Smith, a retired schoolteacher, told his fellow protestors, “I taught kids for 25 years that this is what you have to do to change things, and now it’s time to step up. We’re supposed to be a democracy, so having a minority running the Senate is just so infuriating.”

Revs. Barber and Jackson rang the bell to Sinema’s office, which was not open at the time, than sat outside and even began singing. They were arrested soon after.

State Sen. Martin Quezada (D) was also arrested. He said that he knew that Sinema was watching the developments from the protest.

“My hope is that, after the events that took place today, she will take a closer look at this and she will start to reconsider what her position is on the issue,” Quezada said.

Rev. Jarrett Maupin said after the arrests, “All these people here get credit for having this rally. It has been a very successful one, and they will be getting out momentarily.”

“We are willing to pay the price to help our nation,” Jackson said after his release.

Sinema released a statement following the sit-in, expressing her continued support for the filibuster, despite the protests and growing pressure from constituents, progressive advocates.

Claiming the filibuster “compels moderation and helps protect the country,” Sinema said, “To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass the For the People Act (voting-rights legislation I support and have co-sponsored), I would ask: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to see that legislation rescinded a few years from now and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law or restrictions on voting by mail in federal elections, over the objections of the Senate minority?”

Sinema, along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), has refused to reform the filibuster, a procedural move used to stop legislation from moving through the body. It is a relic of Jim Crow and is currently being used to stop voting reform, raising the minimum wage, and landmark LGBTQ civil rights legislation.

While LGBTQ activists and donors pointedly issued an ultimatum demanding Sinema get on board or lose support from the community, the senator published an op-ed in the Washington Post defending her decision to scuttle bills that tackled issues she campaigned on. By refusing to remove the filibuster, Sinema has essentially doomed her own priorities.

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