Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) is speaking out after being arrested along with eight other protesters for peacefully demonstrating their support of voting rights, MSNBC reports.
Beatty, who also is the Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, was arrested on Thursday while marching in support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act that has failed to gain traction in Congress. The two bills seek to expand and protect voting accessibility as Republican-led states have passed legislation to restrict voting. Because of the Democrat’s razor-thin majority in the Senate and forceful Republican opposition, both bills have slim chances of becoming law.
Just before her march, Beatty spoke on the Hill saying that the present moment is reminiscent of the civil rights movement that mobilized the fight for voting rights.
“We might as well have the dogs and the hoses because we don’t have the Voting Rights Act, and that’s why we need to march in these streets, we need to march as those who were followers of Martin Luther King and John Lewis,” she argued before heading into the Hart Senate Office Building.
Wearing a T-shirt that read "Protect Our Voting Rights," Beatty addressed her colleagues in Congress about the urgency of the issue that was before them.
“That’s what today is about: It’s about fighting for everyone,” she said. “It’s about fighting for justice. It’s about fighting for you.”
Less than an hour later, she was arrested by the Capitol police.
Beatty took to Twitter to share her thoughts about her arrest at the U.S. Capitol.
“You can arrest me. You can’t stop me. You can’t silence me,” she tweeted.
You can arrest me. You can’t stop me. You can’t silence me.
— Joyce Beatty (@RepBeatty) July 15, 2021
In an official statement after her arrest, Beatty said she wouldn't relent in her fight to secure voting rights.
“I stand in solidarity with Black women and allies across the country in defense of our constitutional right to vote,” her statement read. “We have come too far and fought too hard to see everything systematically dismantled and restricted by those who wish to silence us.”
“Be assured that this is just the beginning. This is Our Power, Our Message,” she continued
Appearing on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on Thursday, Beatty was asked to explain the difference between her protest and the insurrection that took place on Jan. 6.
“What we see is the disparity of treatment, we see the disparities when it comes to Black Americans and majority Americans,” she said. “We were there protesting but the rules of engagement changed.”
“We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act,” she explained.“That’s the only way we can make a change when we get more people to vote without voter suppression.”
Since June 21, 17 states had passed 28 new laws this year that restrict access to voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
As Blavity previously reported, in Texas, House Democrats left the state in protest of laws enacted to limit voting.
“We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act,” she continued. “That’s the only way we can make a change when we get more people to vote without voter suppression.”
Beatty plans to continue her fight against restrictive voting policies that seek to disenfranchise Black Americans and people of color across the country.
“It is our voices that will make a difference,” she said. “And we know that.