Outspoken progressive and Twitter celebrity Alyssa Milano claimed, late Tuesday, that she had been arrested at a voter rights rally outside the White House along with 23 other activists from the far-left group, People for the American Way.
Fox News reports that Milano was indeed arrested for the unauthorized demonstration in front of the White House demanding that the Biden administration pass the Freedom to Vote Act, a “voter rights” package that includes limits on gerrymandering, imposes publicly funded elections, and introduces universal vote-by-mail, postage pre-paid. It would also introduce a form of universal voter registration at age 18 and make Election Day a national holiday (though it also includes a mandatory two-week early voting window).
The legislation is not expected to pass over a Republican filibuster, but People for the American Way (PFAW) recruited 24 activists to stand on a sidewalk outside the White House without a permit, inviting action by law enforcement. Milano was among the activists.
“Now: Protesters, including @BenJealous, @Alyssa_Milano, faith leaders, and civil rights leaders, are being arrested outside the White House for calling on President Biden to lead on voting rights. No more excuses. #VotingRightsNow.” the organization tweeted Tuesday.
Milano said she was arrested in a post Tuesday night, piggybacking off People for the American Way’s campaign.
“I was just arrested for demanding the Biden Administration and the Senate to use their mandate to protect voting rights. Stand with me and @peoplefor and tell the Senate and White House that voting rights shouldn’t depend on where you live,” she said.
A United States Park Police officer did, Fox News discovered, detain Milano.
“A U.S. Park Police officer warned the protesters that they could be arrested due to laws prohibiting crowding or obstructing streets or sidewalks,” the outlet noted, citing entertainment magazine, Deadline, which added that the arrest was for a “misdemeanor law that prohibits crowding or obstructing streets or sidewalks.”
“Sgt. Roselyn Norment, public information officer for U.S. Park Police, said that ‘a group affiliated with a permitted demonstration obstructed pedestrian traffic on the North White House sidewalk,'” Deadline noted.
The officer said the detentions were brief; the 24 people were given citations and then released. It is not likely Milano will face any major jail time for the infraction. The law itself is controversial, according to Washington City Paper, and critics have questioned whether D.C.’s prohibition against blocking sidewalks is even Constitutional.
Interestingly, the law is occasionally cited as an example of over-criminalization and criticized as unfairly enforced, ensnaring lower-income and minority residents who, unlike Milano, cannot easily recover from a brief arrest. While Milano may be able to wear her arrest as a badge of honor on social media, Washington City Paper further noted that the law can have a devastating effect on those who can ill afford an arrest on their record.
“We came back to the White House to deliver a clear message to President Biden: we need actions that match the urgency of his words on voting rights – and time is running out,” PFAW’s director said in a statement issued Tuesday night.
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