Fourteen people were arrested last Friday on the walkway
outside the Sudanese embassy. While George
Clooney stole all the headlines, Rep. Jim
Moran (D-VA) was also arrested and recounted the experience in an interview
with The Cable.
"Sometimes no matter how serious the issue, unless you keep
the public focused on it, really bad things can keep happening and even get
worse," Moran said about what he called an act of "civil disobedience" to
protest the Khartoum government's violence against innocent civilians in the
Nuba Mountain and Blue Nile regions of Sudan.
"The North has
conducted a scorched earth strategy. They've wiped out all their fields,
they've forced them up into the mountains. They've got no food," Moran said.
"And once the rainy season starts, which will be in about a month, that will be
it, because you won't be able to get any convoys in. So they will starve to
death. And that is kind of the idea."
Moran said the plan was always to get arrested, and the
group alerted the DC metro police of their plan ahead of time. First, Clooney
and others made speeches in front of the embassy. Then they proceeded up the
walkway, which constituted trespassing. After refusing three police
instructions to leave the embassy grounds, those who were willing to be
arrested held their ground.
"We're just trying to say, look, these are hundreds of
thousands of innocent people who should not be forced to suffer and die because
of an irresponsible ruler and because of a world that looks away from it, that
refuses to get engaged," Moran said. "I
think it was the right thing to do, to try to bring the world's attention to a
Along with Clooney, nine activists and four Congressmen were
arrested. That group included Moran, Rep. Jim
McGovern (D-MA), Rep. John Olver (D-MA), Rep. Al Green (D-TX), Martin Luther King III, former head of the NAACP Ben Chavis, NAACP President Ben Jealous, Nick Clooney, activist Dick Gregory, former congressman and
leader of United to End Genocide Tom Andrews, and Director of the Religious Action Center Rabbi David Saperstein, Moran said.
They were carted off in paddy wagons, processed and
fingerprinted, stripped of their personal belongings, and put in a cell
together for about 5 hours. They all pleaded guilty to trespassing, disturbing
the peace, and refusing to obey a police order. They each paid a $100 fine and
"We needed to get arrested in front of the Sudanese embassy,
and since George was willing to do that we knew we would get some media
coverage," Moran said.
That was the first time Clooney had been arrested, but Moran
was arrested once before protesting on behalf of the people of Darfur, he said.
Overall, he considered the mission a success.
"I think it worked," he said. "If we can get some attention
focused on this real humanitarian crisis, then spending a few hours in jail and
coming up with $100 in cash to bail ourselves out was well worth it."
So what do four congressmen, five activists, and a Hollywood
star do in prison for 5 hours?
"We enjoyed talking about everything," Moran said. "There's
nothing to read, so we talked, and we all got to know each other pretty well."
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