No Tea Partiers Were Harmed In The Protesting Of This Health Care Bill

As Christina reported yesterday, there were multiple arrests made yesterday in and around Speaker Nancy Peolsi’s office in the Cannon House Office Building. A dozen people were arrested in connection with their efforts to disrupt business at Pelosi’s office. All were charged with misdemeanor offenses.

Police say none were tea partiers.At around 2 p.m., according to Capitol Police, anti-abortion protesters began yelling and throwing paper around inside Pelosi’s office and the hallway outside. The group included followers of notorious anti-choice crusader Randall Terry as well as Father Norman Weslin, whose arrest Christina captured on video. Weslin is another anti-choice advocate who, like Terry, is known for civil disobedience. In May, he was arrested while protesting President Obama’s visit to Notre Dame. (See video of that very similar arrest here).

At 2:15 p.m., the officers arrested the 12 for misdemeanor charges ranging from disorderly conduct to unlawful entry. Most were released after being processed at Capitol Police headquarters, though Terry told TPMDC this morning that five were held overnight in a D.C. jail facility. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. said nine total protesters were held overnight, but didn’t know whether they were all arrested at Peolsi’s office.

The protesters who went to jail did so because they refused to give their names to police or court officials, the U.S. Attorney spokesperson said. All will face a judge today.

A Capitol Police spokesperson told TPMDC that there were no arrests made among the thousands of Tea Party Patriots who swarmed the Capitol and Congressional office buildings yesterday. Police increased the number of officers on duty in anticipation of the protests, but said the Tea Party protest “wasn’t difficult to handle” for police.

The spokesperson put to bed a rumor that circulated among the Tea Partiers on the night before the protest rally. Tea Party organizers worried that Pelosi would order a security lockdown to keep the tea partiers from accessing the halls of Congress. The spokesperson said Capitol Police make their security decisions on an independent basis and that their only concern yesterday was stopping lawbreaking, not keeping protesters from taking a stand.

(As Rachel reported, nine protesters were also arrested in Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) office in the Hart Senate Office Building. They weren’t tea partiers either. They were universal health care advocates, protesting Lieberman’s public promises to block health care reform if it includes a public option.)

Late Update: The D.C. District Attorney’s office just called to confirm Randall Terry’s claim that 5 protesters are being held in jail. They are being held because of past convictions for protest-related civil disobedience. The maximum penalties they face are a $250 fine or 90 days in jail.