Women Disobey in D.C., A Collective Experience Protesting the Illegal Detention of Children at U.S. Borders

Written by; Rebekah B., Women's March MN - Board of Directors

After the illegal detention of children and the immoral tearing apart of families, Women’s March National planned and executed the largest Civil Disobedient group of women ever recorded in our nation's history to rally and hold accountable those in office that are allowing these vicious, racist and outright terrifying things to happen.

On Thursday, June 27, 2018, nearly 600 women and femme-identifying individuals were arrested from the Senate Building in Washington D.C. I was among them, and while it was my fifth time arrested for civil disobedience, it was an experience unlike any other that I will never forget. 

I was moved by the passionate, committed response to ending the separation of families seeking asylum and the incarceration of children,” This is a moral, not political question and I’m proud to have stood with the hundreds of women to say that we do not accept this. Unite families and abolish ICE.
— Susan Sarandon

This march and action came to be through the help of many different people willing to put their bodies on the line to protect those that are in need. Most of us arrived at various times throughout the night, welcomed by warm arms of familiar faces we hadn’t seen since last being arrested together. Thursday morning, after sleeping on the floors of a church that opened their doors to us, we ate breakfast together and then headed to Freedom Plaza.

Slowly, but with an immense amount of passion, Freedom Plaza became packed with a sea of activists, all wearing white, eagerly awaiting the start of the march. Around 10:30 am we began with a welcome from the leaders of Women's March National and various organizations from around the country. At nearly 100 degrees, the heat of the sun and pavement was beaming on a group of over 1,000 people. We felt beyond powerful.

Photo Credit: Ken Schels

We began our march from Freedom Plaza. Our first stop was the Washington D.C. Trump Hotel. There was an echoing of "Shame. Shame. Shame." filling the block of Pennsylvania Avenue. We halted our march at the front doors of the hotel and chanted for a powerful five minutes before moving on to the Department of Justice building. There, we held our Press Conference. Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Winnie Wong, Bob Bland and others kept the media’s attention while fellow Women's March leads, along with special guest Susan Sarandon, and myself were on the front lines holding the silence so our collective message could be heard.

The three goals that we demanded from the administration were as follows;

  1. End the immoral detention of children, immediately.
  2. Reunite all separated families.
  3. Create a plan to abolish the terrorist group that is ICE.

After presenting our goals, we marched our way to the Hart Building, one of three buildings where our nation's Senators sit. We went into the lobby of the building. Those that marched with us, who were not risking arrest, headed upstairs to watch our civil disobedience. Calm and determined, we flooded the central atrium. The building quickly focused their attention on us. About halfway through the action, 600 women pulled out silver mylar blankets similar to what the children in detention centers have been given. Throughout the action, we were visited by Senators Jeff Merkley (Oregon), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), Tammy Duckworth (Illinois) and Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), while Elizabeth Warren watched and cheered on from afar. They we each given a blanket in solidarity, but it was Representative Pramila Jayapal (Washington) who not only took a verbal stance with us but sat and was arrested with us as well.

Photo Credit: T.W. Collins

One by one, after our first, second, and third warnings, we were asked for identification and if we knew what we were risking. Finally, we were escorted out of the Hart building in groups of twenty. Approximately two hours after the first arrest, I was among the last group to be removed. Because there were so many of us, we weren't taken to the typical holding cell for processing. We were confined to the park across the street. It took three hours before the final protestor was released.

The entire experience was one that not only holds an immense amount of privilege, but is also essential to invest in, especially for those of us who are able. Now more than ever, we need to stand up for our siblings in marginalized communities as more and more of their rights are being stripped away each day.

Keep Resisting,

Rebekah B., Women's March MN - Board of Directors