Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee was arrested Thursday, July 29, while participating in a voting protest in Washington.
Lee headed a march of Black voting rights activists outside a Senate Hart Building to protest the passing of Democrats-backed legislation on voting rights, For the People Act.
The bills passed the House earlier this year, but Senate Republicans panned one of them in late June. GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) alleged that the measure would give the federal government far too much control over how elections are conducted.
Lee was arrested after Capitol Police set out a final warning that the crowd needed to disperse.
As Jackson Lee and other protesters were led into police vans, they began singing and chanting. According to Dallas News, several others were arrested alongside the congresswoman, but it was unclear who or how many.
“Tell the people we’re fighting for them,” they said, as the outlet reported. “We’re fighting for democracy.”
Lee was released soon later, and she said she was proud she stood up to protest for voting ease.
“Yes, I engaged in civil disobedience today in front of the Hart Building … and I was arrested. I believe when you are getting into ‘good trouble’ … any action that is a peaceful action of civil disobedience is worthy,” the Texas Democrat said in a video after the police let her out.
“I will NEVER stop fighting for Voting Rights!” Lee declared.
Her arrest has marked Lee as the third lawmaker to be detained in recent weeks while appearing in a pro-voting rights demonstration in Washington. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, was arrested on July 15, while Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) was apprehended at another event near Capitol Hill last week.
The For the People Act legislation was a strike back from the Democrats to their Republican peers who had started to come up with voting restriction laws to ensure future transparency in the election systems and reduce changes for cheating. The Democrats, however, alleged the many restrictions provided by the bills suppress minority votes by making voting less convenient.
For the People Act failed the Senate vote last month in an even split along party lines.
“I would call it the universal fraud law,” said Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Republican. “We came out of this last election where we saw multiple allegations of serious voter fraud. The Democrats and the media took on the talking points that voter fraud doesn’t exist. That anyone who says it exists is somehow engaged in a conspiracy theory.”
“The Democrats made an incredibly cynical decision, which is that they believe that they benefit from voter fraud, and they are trying to take this moment in time,” he alleged.
To the Texas Democratic Party, Lee’s arrest was a valiant act to defend “civil rights.”
“Throughout history, Black women like Rep. Jackson Lee have led the way on civil and voting rights issues, and today, as we face the greatest civil rights struggles of our time, Black women remain the leaders at the heart of this fight,” Jamarr Brown, the co-executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a statement later on Thursday.