Six civil rights activists, one including the CEO and President of the NAACP, were arrested on Tuesday (Jan. 3) for a non-violent protest at the office at US Sen. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general nominee picked by President-elect Donald Trump.
CNN reports NAACP President Cornell William Brooks helped lead the sit-in with other members when they quietly sat in Sessions’ Mobile, Ala. office. They were identified as Devon Crawford, Stephen A. Green, Joe Keffer, Lizzetta McConnell and Bernard Simelton with local or national titles in the NAACP.
Trump named Sessions his attorney general pick in November. “He is a world-class legal mind and considered a truly great Attorney General and U.S. Attorney in the state of Alabama,” Trump said at the time. “Jeff is greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him.” It didn’t take long for the public to discover Sessions’ run-ins with racist rhetoric. During his time with the Ronald Reagan administration, Sessions reportedly made insensitive comments towards African-Americans and once mentioned he didn’t have issues with the Ku Klux Klan until “he learned that they smoked marijuana.”
Brooks and the group of activists said they would remain in Sessions’ office until he withdrew himself from the nomination or until they were arrested. “We are asking the senator to withdraw his name for consideration as attorney general or for the President-elect, Donald Trump, to withdraw the nomination,” Brooks said.”In the midst of rampant voter suppression, this nominee has failed to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression while pretending to believe in the myth of voter fraud.”
The group shared the experience on Facebook Live and on Twitter, where they were seated on the floor.
— Cornell William Brooks (@CornellWBrooks) January 3, 2017
Brooks was critical of Trump’s campaign the White House and denounced the businessman’s organization for their views against immigrants and the lower class. “The fact of the matter is this is hateful. It is racist. It is bigoted. It is xenophobic. It represents a kind of Jim Crow with hairspray and a blue suit,” he said to CNN in March 2016. “Let’s not underestimate what we’re dealing with. This is a very, very ugly moment in America.”
Before their arrest, the group peacefully complied and said a prayer. As their mugshots began to surface on social media, Brooks took the moment to embrace them by sharing them several times on Twitter. “After the @jeffsessions sit-in, these mug shots aren’t pretty, but they’re pictures of @NAACP determination. #RestoreTheVRA & #stopsessions,” he tweeted.
A rep for Sessions called the racist claims “recycled” and assured the senator would be sure to “prosecute government corruption” during his time as attorney general. “Many African-American leaders who’ve known him for decades attest to this and have welcomed his nomination to be the next attorney general,” Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement. “These false portrayals of Sen. Sessions will fail as tired, recycled, hyperbolic charges that have been thoroughly rebuked and discredited,” she said.