D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and 40 other protesters — including members of the city council — were arrested by Capitol Police on Monday after they blocked Constitution Avenue near the Capitol in protest of aspects of the budget deal reached by Congress which limit the city’s autonomy, specifically prohibiting the use of DC public funds for abortions.The deal reached between Democrats and Republicans to avert a government shutdown and fund the government for the rest if the fiscal year bans the use of DC government funding for abortion in D.C. (TBD has an explainer here). President Barack Obama told House Speaker John Boehner that he would give in on the abortion funding issue, but said he was “not happy about it,” according to the Washington Post.
Somewhere around 300 protesters and onlookers gathered on the sidewalks off Constitution Avenue.
Laura Meyers, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, said her organization was supportive of opposition to the D.C. rider which “effectively strips D.C.’s ability to spend its own locally raised tax funds to fund medication abortion for low-income women.”
The mayor said in a statement issued by city hall that the deal was “an absolute travesty” and that “D.C. deserves to be free. All we want to do is spend our own money.”
“Why should women in the District of Columbia be subjected to a set of rules that no other woman is subjected to?,” Gray said.
Other officials arrested included City Council Member Muriel Browser, City Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown, Council members Yvette Alexander, Tommy Wells, Michael Brown and Sekou Biddle.