Congressmen in cuffs

DSC_0419As the focus of his camera adjusts I feel the lens spin against my cheek.
“Don’t move, miss,” he barks at me. CNN. Jerks.
“I’m right behind you.”
Her lips are touching my ear on the other side as she leans out across my back.
“It’s fine,” I barely mumble back.
Her Associated Press press pass falls across my shoulder. I make a mental note to look her up later. She nice, not pushy for a photographer, just trying to angle her camera towards a gap in the crowd.
My own shoulder is pressed against a police officer’s hip as I kneel on the pavement in front of the capitol, extending my camera through the officer’s legs. Auto focus is my only option as I’m using my other hand for balance.
I click and I retrieve my camera and look at the screen to see what the camera has captured that I can’t see from an arms length further back in the crowd.

As far as my screen can reveal there are two rows of people sitting cross legged and holding hands, two police officers are zip-tying the hands of one young woman on the far left. In the center stands Representative Luis Guiterrez, the Hispanic hero for immigration reform and civil rights, hands clasped, waiting to be be hand cuffed. Beside him stands five fellow congressmen.

Rep. Al Green’s arrest.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez arrest.

They have walked together to the capitol steps from the near-by National Mall, holding each others hands, flanked by a crowd of more than 15 thousand — activists, families, politicians, press and security. Barely able to push through the crowd of media, the congressmen walked with a group of about 10 children in front of them carrying a banner that read, “America Needs Immigration Reform Now.” On each child’s shirt are the words “Do Not Deport My Mom” or “Dad.” Congressmen and children are engaged in a calls and response.


“Show me what democracy looks like.”
“This is what democracy looks like.”
And throughout the entire crowd, the words surge. “Si, se puede. Si, se puede.”
One Hispanic woman yells, “Say it in English. We’re Americans remember! Yes, we can!”
Crowds. Speeches. Life Stories. Free concerts. Civil Disobedience.

This group has been pushing for immigration reform for years.

Yet even as Congressmen go to jail to make a stand that might be noticed by their fellow Congressmen, as thousands come together to plead for a vote in the House of Representatives that might stop their families from being torn apart, what’s the point? Will they take the time to vote anyway?
Congress isn’t exactly just sitting around wondering what to do. And if this isn’t the first thing on their priority list it’s not surprising.
But it’s not my job to ponder politics and the ways of activists. I just write about it.
I fill up my memory card and stand up. Photographers immediately close the gap. I push my way through the crowd, ready to return to the office and face my own challenges — getting Charlie to edit my story in a fashion so that it is even remotely timely by the time the story is released to the wire.

Update: Here’s the story—


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