DC Mayor Arrested, Released for Budget Protest (Video)

April 12, 2011 Updated: September 29, 2015

DC Mayor Vincent Gray and city councilmembers arrested.

Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray and six city council members were arrested on Monday, April 11 for protesting the federal budget deal, which Gray said violated the rights of his city.

“This is an absolute travesty. D.C. deserves to be free,” he said, according to a city news release. “All we want to do is spend our own money.”

The recent federal budget compromise restores a school voucher program in D.C., and forbids D.C. tax money from paying for abortions for poor women. Reports on Monday said the riders blocked funding for a needle exchange program, but that was not correct. The restrictions apply to city tax dollars, not federal funds. The restrictions on city programs were riders included in the tax compromise.

District Representative Sharon Holmes Norton, who represents D.C. but cannot vote in the House, told the Associated Press, “We got bargained away, I don’t know for what.” She cursed Congress in an interview on MSNBC.

No other city is subject to decisions made by Congress in the same way as D.C.

Gray appeared on MSNBC television still wearing his plastic jail ID bracelet. He said he planned to keep wearing it to remind people of the poor treatment of Washington, D.C, by Congress, and that he wanted an explanation.

Mayor Gray, City Council Chairman Kwame Brown, Councilmembers Muriel Bowser, Tommy Wells, Michael Brown, Yvette Alexander, and Sekou Biddle sat down on Constitution Avenue near the Senate. According to Gray, 41 people in all were arrested.

Capitol police handcuffed them. An AP article shows a photo of the mayor being searched by Capitol police. The elected representatives were arrested, but released Monday evening.

A group of residents gathered at the jail to applaud them, according to a statement from the city.