As opposition to Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination to serve as Donald Trump’s attorney general grew louder on Tuesday, six people were arrested following an eight-hour sit-in organized by the NAACP at the senator’s Mobile, Alabama, office.
The protest began around 11 a.m., when nearly two dozen activists occupied Sessions’s office, accusing the senator of being “hostile” to the Voting Rights Act and other civil rights issues. The demonstration was part of a larger action by the Alabama NAACP, which held press conferences opposing Sessions at his other district offices on Tuesday. Demonstrators in Mobile vowed to remain in the office until the senator’s nomination was pulled or 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,” Cornell William Brooks, the national president of the NAACP, said during the sit-in. “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 demonstrators asked to speak with Sessions, but according to USA Today they were told he was unavailable. They were also unable to speak with his D.C. policy staff. Updates on the protest were posted on social media, and many offered messages of support.
— Cornell Wm. Brooks (@CornellWBrooks) January 3, 2017
— Lee Hedgepeth (@ALPolitics) January 3, 2017
The protest ended around 6:30 p.m. local time when the group refused to leave as the office closed for the day. A Facebook Live broadcast showed the arrests of five men and one woman, including Brooks and Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton. The six were taken into custody peacefully, with Brooks shaking hands with the officers who arrived on the scene. “We all are aware of the laws of trespass. We are engaging in a voluntary act of civil disobedience,” Brooks told the police.
The demonstrators were allowed to kneel and pray before they were handcuffed and led to a police van. They were charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass and released on bond, according to the AP.