Several DC leaders, including Mayor Vincent Gray, were arrested during a budget cut protest outside the Capitol on Monday. Dressed in business attire, Gray and his Council members sat down in the street outside a Senate office building. The police soon arrived, cuffed their hands with plastic loops, and loaded them into police wagons to cheers from the crowd, according to the AP. Gray and six Council members were among forty-one people arrested in total.
The group was released from jail seven hours later. “We needed to make a statement,” Gray said. He is the second DC mayor to go to jail while advocating for statehood. The district is not considered an autonomous state, and is instead directly overseen by the federal government. Many in DC view this system of governance as taxation without representation, since citizens are expected to pay taxes even though they don’t have representation in the Senate or House. Yet, despite this reality, DC was used as a bargaining chip during the budget negotiations, says Gray.
The city will likely be unable to spend its own tax dollars on abortions for low-income women. It may also be banned from spending city money on needle exchange programs believed vital to curbing the spread of HIV in the district, where the disease is considered an epidemic. Also back: a school voucher program favored by Republicans.…
“If this isn’t taxation without representation, I don’t know what is,” said the mayor before he was arrested.…
"It would be nothing short of disastrous," said Cyndee Clay, executive director of HIPS, an organization that works with sex workers and drug users and is currently exchanging about 8,000 needles a month. "I don’t understand why they’re doing this to us."
Meanwhile, hundreds of students in Texas’s Keller Independent School District walked five miles to the district’s administration building in protest over $38 million in proposed cuts.
Students at Timber Creek High School in Fort Worth also participated in civil disobedience by gathering in front of their school Monday morning for a peaceful sit-in. Timber Creek’s principal explained the motives behind the protest.
"Getting a ticket or getting suspended for three days is a small price to pay for keeping somebody like Coach Sammons at our school," junior Jordan Hennen said.
Kyle Sammons is one of 17 teachers at Timber Creek who have been told they will be laid off after the school year ends.
Administrators are threatening each student who participated by skipping class with anything from a parent-teacher meeting to a suspension.
In New Hampshire, a rally will be held today to protest the drastic cuts proposed in the state’s budget, in addition to the repeal of collective bargaining, the proposed Right to Work legislation and pension changes protesters say will be harmful for the state. The planned demonstration follows the NH House of Representatives approval of a $10.2 billion budget that includes cuts to substance abuse programs, services for mental health and the elderly, education, programs for the poor and vulnerable and changes to bargaining rights for public workers.
Hampton resident Gary Patton describes the right to collectively bargain as a basic American right. "It’s not something that should be awarded or given," says Patton. "It’s something that is much a right as freedom of speech. When that is threatened I become very concerned."