Joyce Beatty, Black congressional leader arrested in US voting rights rally

July 16, 2021: A voting rights demonstration by Black women leaders at the United States Capitol has ended with the arrest of the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Joyce Beatty.

She  was accompanied by dozens of demonstrators who marched to the US Senate on Thursday to demand the passage of federal voting-rights legislation.

The small rally was sparked by state-wide voting laws that civil rights groups say disproportionately discriminated against people of color and other groups, limiting voting times, requiring photo identification, and prohibiting mail voting and allowing partisan poll watchers.

Police responded when the group gathered in the atrium of the Senate building and began making arrests after some demonstrators, including Beatty, refused to vacate.

“Let the people vote,” Beatty wrote on Twitter after her release, along with a picture of a Capitol police officer putting her plastic handcuffs. “Fight for justice.”

Joyce Beatty tweeted in a later post, “We’ve come a long way and worked hard to eliminate and limit everything in an orderly way through these people,” Beatty said in a later post. She cited the hashtag #GoodTrouble, a former congressman and civil rights icon, John Lewis, who launched the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which sought to combat discrimination in voting. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions have rolled back scope of legislation.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the Senate to enact a public act, federal legislation that seeks to increase access to voting and ban racist crimes. In this House, where US President Joe Biden has a strong majority, the bill was passed in March, but Republicans have used the legislative impediment filibuster to block its passage in the Senate.

On Tuesday, Biden called the state-level voting laws “a new wave of voter suppression and raw and sustained election subversion”.

Biden also called on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

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