A dozen protesters, including several government union leaders, were arrested Wednesday outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office following a protest demanding that he take action to end the partial government shutdown.
The arrests, which were made for “unlawfully demonstrating,” according to Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki, came after J. David Cox, the head of the American Federation of Government Employees and Randy Erwin, the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, entered McConnell’s office in the Russell Senate Office Building asking to meet with the Kentucky Republican.
After learning that McConnell was not in the office, the two, along with 10 other demonstrators, sat on the floor outside the office and chanted “Where is McConnell?” and “End the shutdown.”
After staying for a period of time mutually agreed upon by both the demonstrators and Capitol Police, the group was arrested and charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” according to the department.
The sit-in happened shortly after a larger demonstration occurred in the Hart Senate Office Building in which protesters stood in silence for 33 minutes for each day the the shutdown has gone on for. The protest, organized by union representatives and attended by scores of federal employees, also included Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Ayanna Pressley, Jamie Raskin and Ro Khanna.
Protesters are pushing to end the stalemate over reopening the government, after funding for about 25% of the government expired on December 22, having many widespread consequences including the shuttering of some national parks, longer lines at airports and hundreds of thousands of federal employees going without paychecks, some on furlough and some required to work.
President Donald Trump has pushed for more than $5 billion for his campaign promise of a wall along the US border with Mexico, and Democratic negotiators in Congress have refused to budge, leading to the standoff, the longest such government shutdown in history.