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Rep. Donna Edwards Arrested in Darfur Protest

Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-Prince George's) was among five members of Congress arrested on civil disobedience charges this morning outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington as they protested that country's decision to expel 16 aid agencies from Darfur.

Other congress members charged were Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Lewis (D-GA), Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). They are accused of crossing a police line.

"I thought it was pretty important to join with my colleagues in saying this is not acceptable in a civil society," Edwards said in an interview following her release. "These are issues I've cared about for a long time, long before I came into Congress."

Edwards, who represents the 4th Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Prince George's and Montgomery counties, said she was particularly proud to join with Lewis, whose civil rights history "I admire tremendously."

Sudan expelled the aid groups in response to the International Criminal Court's deicsion to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges that Bashir used the instruments of state to direct the mass murder of tens of thousands of Sudanese civilians in Darfur

Edwards, a former neighborhood activist who upset U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn in last year's Democratic primary, said she had participated in civil disobedience in the past but never been arrested.

She said she and other protestors at the embassy were warned by the Secret Service Police not to cross a line, and then warned twice more, before they were arrested.

"We knew obviously that was a possibility when we crossed the line," she said of her arrest.

By Anne Bartlett  |  April 27, 2009; 12:23 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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I find their actions to be unbecoming.

Posted by: | April 27, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

We are closing schools, firing teachers, and raising property tax rates in Prince Georges County at a time where there are still a steady stream of home foreclosures every month.

Ms Edwards please concentrate your efforts and energies on issues that matter to Prince Georges County or you'll find yourself a 'former' congressperson with plenty of time to protest outside the Sudanese embassy.

If Mr. Lewis' constituents don't mind him using their tax dollars to grandstand that's their issue.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | April 27, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

If Donna Edwards wants a second term in congress, she needs to start taking care of her constituents and stop getting involved in matters that have little effect on those who chose her as their representative.

Compared to Edwards, Albert Wynn wasn't so bad after all.

Posted by: postisarag | April 27, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

It is easy to protest about Darfur because she will not be responsible for actually fixing anything. While on the other hand there are thousands of children in her own district that need attention. Will she do anything to fix the educational system , provide stable family environment, reduce crime; no. Because that takes problem solving skills which politicians do not have.

Posted by: goziner | April 27, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone in PG County think beyond their own area? Does the crisis in Darfur mean nothing to you? I commend Congresswoman Edwards and her colleagues for their actions today. We as a nation have a responsibility to the rest of the world. These five Congressmen exemplify this responsibility. Thank you for being willing to risk arrest to draw attention to this deplorable situation.

Posted by: cooper73 | April 27, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Why am I not surprised all 5 were democrats. Typical Democratic campaigning BS. Pretend you care, get their votes, make no changes. PATHETIC.

PG County residents deserve better.

Posted by: askgees | April 27, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with cooper73. Hasn't the economic crisis and the current outbreak of swine flu taught us that we can no longer bury our heads in the flower beds of our own backyards? And what happened to basic human compassion for all people?

Posted by: teejackson_93 | April 27, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, they can all caucus in jail. I guess the "Amazing Obama' is out to lunch or tweaking his teleprompter.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | April 27, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

What is going on? I guess we are all supposed to be like Cain and shout that we are not our brothers' keepers. I know that as humans, we can be sometimes selfish and thoughtless, but an entire people in Darfur are being systematically tortured, raped and murdered. I guess that somehow equals losing a home. Does it not matter because they don't reside in PG? Or does it not matter because they aren't your neighbors? Why doesn't it matter? We can always get another house, another car, another job. What's happening over there is genocide and we should care...

Posted by: originalcutie | April 27, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

There is something stupid about a now insider acting like she's an outsider resorting to street protest and crossing police lines. If you want civil disobedience aimed at our embassies, fine set the example. This is just plain stupid and immature for her status.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | April 27, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

This is all a show to draw attention to Darfur. When the cameras are turned off, the cuffs come off. No one will be fined. No one will be jailed. The same thing used to be done to protest South African apartheid. I'm certainly not advocating genocide or apartheid, but I would be more impressed if these folks protested in the certain knowledge that to do so would cost them something. Spend the night in a cell, miss a meeting or a vote in Congress, miss dinner- I don't know, but pay some kind of price for your civil disobedience, otherwise it's just a media driven sham.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 27, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I would commend Edwards for her concern, but not for her transgression of the law. Protesting is not the same as being a criminal. I hope a judge throws the book at her. What a shameful example for a lawmaker sworn to uphold the law - turning civic action into an excuse to flaunt the law. Shame!

Posted by: Drew95 | April 27, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

The crossed a police line .. I don't see that as teaching any bad example given what the Sudanese government has done to fellow human beings.

Shame on us .. more of us with perhaps more liberal schedules should be down there.

You can't make life uncomfortable enough for the folks in that embassy. We should toss them all out of the country.

Posted by: tslats | April 27, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I am appalled by the posters to this forum who cannot think beyond their own backyard. There are serious events happening in Sudan. The expulsion of aids agencies leaves the citizens of Sudan even more at the mercy of a ruthless tyrant. Learn to think about something other than your own petty grievances. Sure, things are hard in this country. But things in Sudan are a lot harder than most Americans can possibly imagine. We elect politicians to federal offices so that they can deal with not only domestic but international problems, as well. Stop your whining and let Rep. Edwards and the others try to make a difference in the world.

As a final note, I notice that some posters are blaming this on the politicians' party affiliation. Democratic grandstanding, huh? Well, where are all the conservatives who, way back in 2002 and 2003 when Bush was making his case for going into Iraq, bellowed and barked about how we have to deal harshly with ruthless dictators? So we pick and choose which dictators we want to overthrow? Dictators of countries with vast natural resources who murder their own citizens should be overthrown? But dictators of countries with no marketable natural resources who murder their own citizens shouldn't be bothered with because that's some other country's problem? What hypocrisy!

Posted by: sdecker | April 27, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

genocide is not only an American problem, but a world problem... and this includes tiny PG county. Of all counties in the state of Maryland you would think a majority black county such as PG would show a bit more support for their brother and sisters in the African diaspora...You folks are lucky to have a well informed rep as Donna Donna Edwards isn't the reason why PG schools are failing, the reason why PG parents don't read to their children or support teachers, she isnt the reason why folks in pg overextend themselves financially to keep up with the "Jones", she isnt the reason why teen pregnancy and STD rates are so high in the county...stop blaming people and take responsibility for your lives, instead of blaming Ms. Edwards for doing what we ALL should be doing and that is speaking out against violence and injustice.

Posted by: arinze30001 | April 27, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

She represents part of Montgomery County too.

Posted by: subwayguy | April 27, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

What??? She can't be concerned with areas outside of PG County. We just spent years on a war that has nothing to do with America. I think as a person and a congresswoman, she allowed to speak her mind and share her ideas however she wants. I'm sure she can concentrate on two things at once. I'm sure she's smart enough to multitask ALL of her concerns.

Posted by: brookeadelman | April 27, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Her actions were successful because I didn't know Sudan had expelled the aid organizations, and now I do. She has brought attention to this very important matter, and in doing so reminded me of my own commitment to donate to Amnesty International. I think I'll add a bit more to my annual donation this year, and ask them what else I can do to help stop the genocide in Sudan and the killing in Congo.

Posted by: WorldCup | April 27, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

She just doesn't represent Prince George's county, part of Montgomery County is within District 4....

Posted by: PolitcoGirl | April 27, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Great job Congresspersons.

Posted by: elwoll | April 27, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

FOR THE RECORD...Donna Edwards DOES IN FACT represent Prince Georges county (though she also represents parts of Montgomery county as well). I made reference to PG county in my initial post because this is the county that the first few posters were mentioning, and because the majority of Montgomery county does not have the social and educational problems seen in prince Georges.

Posted by: arinze30001 | April 27, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

This country was founded on civil disobedience. She is a citizen of the United States of America and has the right to protest whatever she sees fit. I commend my congresswoman for voicing her opinion. As a citizen who lives in PG County, the genocide in Darfur is an issue I'm concerned with, so she is representing my interests.

Posted by: liveitup93 | April 27, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Can whoever locked up her and her left-wingnuts socialist comrades throw away the key?

Posted by: jim000122 | April 27, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I have no comment regarding the darfur protest per se.

Rep. Donna Edwards is within her rights to engage in paceful protest. Why not? When she is willing to face the consequences, I don't see why the people here are finding fault with her violating the law.

Also, I don't see why a representative or a senator, engaging in this form of a political protest, has to be handcuffed. It is not as if she is a dangerous criminal, either going to assault the police, or flee given a chance.

I find the actions of the police unbecoming.

Posted by: pKrishna43 | April 27, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

If this is how Maryland treats a representitive that stands up for what's right, is there and question why Virginia is a far superior state?

Posted by: VirginiaSid | April 27, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"Can whoever locked up her and her left-wingnuts socialist comrades throw away the key? - Posted by: jim000122"

In the future, when/if some "right-wing nuts fascist rednecks" are arrested on a similar protest (say in front of a clinic), would you also advocate throwing away the key?

Posted by: pKrishna43 | April 27, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh! And I thought when she asked me to vote for her for Congress, she wanted to be a lawMAKER!

Posted by: dennis10 | April 27, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

As a PG resident, I'm disappointed to see our rep breaking American laws to protest Sundanese actions. Embarrassing.

I would expect a freshman in the House to be spending her time focused on supporting HER OWN constituents and not breaking OUR OWN laws. Just plain embarrassing.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | April 27, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Hypocrcy at works, <Danna Edwards,and the others, thier attention is to take away what
isgoing on with thier states,as black voters, they tried to be more concern ,with other black sudan, how about the killing in Iraq, Palistien, culombia,GENOCIDES,or those people not human, not kins of Kings,It is ashame,those
who reprsent us just Hypocrites

Posted by: jsbolusa | April 27, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Haha. You guys are all awesome.

Posted by: fuser | April 27, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

We have ignored the Sudanese abuses too long. I can understand if we don't think the country is important enough to care about, that's the choice every country's leadership has to make about other countries.

But what I can't understand is why we are still recognizing them diplomatically while they do what they do. The country should have been ostracized long ago and diplomatic ties cut.

Ignoring their country completely is one thing, but recognizing their leadership while ignoring the abuses is just endorsement of their actions.

Posted by: AsperGirl | April 27, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I am proud of Donna and the other reps. Good on them!

Posted by: ipillyc | April 27, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

My my...I see who would have been standing in the house peeping out the window during the protests of the 60s and 70s.
Is everyone aware PROTESTING IS LEGAL - what law did she break? Until the police show up in battle gear they're mostly NON-VIOLENT so if things jump off who's really at fault? I'm glad to see SOMEONE HAS BALLS ON THE HILL- FUNNY HOW IT HAPPENS TO BE A "WOMAN"

People in America used to stand up for their beliefs - remember the revolution, civil rights movement and Viet Nam War protests? Were you born then? Do they still teach it in history?
Loud-mouth cowards are so sickening. I guess finger pointing works better for people who talk about doing something until someone has to be accountable, then you're just all about "awareness". I am "aware" of the fact that making people aware without taking action is nothing more than gossiping. I've heard some horror stories about the treatment of emigrants and the immigration issues in this area- I'm curious about the comments we'd have here if she was arrested while stumping for the rights of the Latinos in PG and Montgomery Co. Hmmmm....

If you don't stand for something you will fall for the Iraq war, the war on drugs (more like control of and profits from) and the war on America's economy.....GREED.

I'm not sure what kind of INSIDER jhtlag1 and Drew95 think Donna is- maybe the kind who can be elected to office and don't pay taxes, get garnished or fined (unless it's Marion Barry who did more for DC than any other official in history BEFORE the crack years), the kind who takes "taxpayer dollars", bails out corporations but the employees, give MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR payouts to CEOs but none to the struggling citizens or the kind who's driven to and from work in a limo paid for with tax dollars from the people riding the city bus and Metro like Donna has been doing FOR YEARS? Genocide is going on in America too...but you wouldn't see that looking out your window in suburbia, the insulated comfort of your luxury import or from your annual vacations abroad.

Posted by: lioness_ohyes | April 27, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

What we need is to have the Sudan govt. tackle the Somalia pirate problem. They obviously know how to handle bad Africans.

Posted by: pkipping | April 27, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Trash. So when she establishes a line outside her house and tells the crooks, drug dealers, and prostitutes not to cross, and the DO, then she'll be the first to call the police. She needs to learn to respect the law. What a jerk. Vote her out.

Posted by: rpcv84 | April 27, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

To those who say what Congresswoman Edwards did has "little effect on those who chose her as their representative," think again - if these abuses aren't prevented abroad, how long before they make it here? While I did not vote for her, due to her skirting of issues that were important to me (i.e., crime, education, prosecution of our county executive and county council for their continued criminal behavior), I actually respect her for this.

Posted by: Its_the_Truth_Anyhow | April 27, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I congratulate Congresswoman Edwards for getting out there and drawing attention to this real and timely issue.

Posted by: johnnyspazm | April 27, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I am very proud of my Congresswoman and am encouraged that there are still elected officials who are willing to put themselves on the line personally to challenge such deeply immoral actions.

Posted by: kimberley1 | April 27, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad there is are at least 4 human beings in the House of Representatives who care enough to try and break the silence on this mass murder. I'm also glad that Rep. Edwards understands that her district doesn't exist in a vacuum.

Finally, a true progressive brings her voice to our government.

Posted by: RJ24 | April 27, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Congresswoman Edwards not only represents me in Congress, she represents my ideals as well.

So unlike most of the xenophobic posters here who probably are not her constituents and should be ignored, I applaud the Congresswoman and expect her to be reelected a third time by the majority of the 4th Congressional District.

Posted by: jugizuja | April 27, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

If you find that unbecoming, take a closer look at what is happening in Darfur.

I feel good that my congresswoman stands up for what is right and even better that we can protest in America. If she crossed a physical line in the act of protesting, she will have to face the consequences of her actions. By the same token, some important changes in America have been initiated because people didn't always stay behind the lines. Donna Edwards is not corrupt for protesting, but as a representative she does have to hear the views of those she represents in a way that most of us would not have to were we arrested protesting.

I also think that someone as bright and hard working as Donna Edwards can spend a bit of time protesting for an important cause AND do her job well.

Posted by: greganderica | April 27, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

This is in response to the post by pkipping ("What we need is to have the Sudan govt. tackle the Somalia pirate problem. They obviously know how to handle bad Africans." Posted by: pkipping | April 27, 2009 4:39 PM). I hope that your comment about the Sudanese government knowing how to "handle bad Africans" is a joke because you cannot think the situation in Sudan is an appropriate way to "handle" any human being. Surely, you are not suggesting that the aid workers are in Sudan are "bad Africans"? Or that the millions of Sudanese affected by the genocide are "bad Africans"? The situation in Sudan is a serious one and if Congresswoman Edwards and others choose to protest the removal of the aid workers it for for good reasons.

Posted by: lawgirl | April 27, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

rpcv84: Your post makes absolutely no sense. How is analogizing crooks, drug dealers and prostitutes (and the crimes that they commit) to a peaceful protest against the genocide in the Sudan the least big logical? What Rep. Edwards did was exercise her right to peacefully assemble in protest of a very serious issue that has worldwide implications.

Posted by: sdecker | April 27, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

sdecker I agree with you we have forgotten how to care about others we have become such cold and angry people it is heart breaking to read some of the comments. I stand behind Congresswoman Donna Edwards and others who were willing to take stand for a people who cannot take a stand for themselves. For those of you that are haters remember what goes around comes around.

Posted by: dbarnes1 | April 27, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

No, Ms lioness, you are wrong. Protesting and crossing police lines (read that carefully) at an embassy is not legal. Maybe I don't expect you to understand that host countries are explicitly and completely - no exceptions - responsible for embassy safty, but I would expect a congresswoman to understand that. In principle, it is keeping our embassies around the world safer by not violating their privileges here. The Iran situation is the only time one of our embassies has been overrun.

Of course she's an insider. she's in Congress and should be using those powers to the best of her abilities. But she isn't, she's out in the street being less effective.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | April 27, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Why do so many people of you presume that by participating in this event, for just even ONE day, that it means she's completely ignoring her constituents? Do you honestly think she'll now devote 100% of her time towards trying to topple the Sudanese government and completely ignore anything else going on in her backyard? Also, would anyone here like to be the first to say that there are NO Sudanese-Americans living in Mont Co/PG Co/District 4, who are against the corrupt Sudanese government's actions in Darfur, and wouldn't be thrilled that their own respresentative in US government is at least taking an honest stand against human rights abuses, possibly being perpetrated towards family, friends, relatives, or other members of the community they'd ever known?

Sorry, but they're not Martians, and there's enough of them around this area for it to matter to the politicians representing them (which it should no matter what).

Posted by: ShakeAppeal | April 27, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

small accidental ommission -

*possibly being perpetrated towards family, friends, relatives, or other members of the FIRST community they'd likely ever known?

Posted by: ShakeAppeal | April 27, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

I am very disappointed with the misinformed actions of these four members of Congress, especially Cong. Ellison, the first Muslim elected to congress and Cong. Edwards, who in February had a town hall meeting on the Middle East, the Israeli assault on Gaza, etc. at PG Community College.

First, the ICC (International Criminal Court), is only binding on those countries that are signed on to it. The U.S., Israel, Sudan and other countries are not signatories, so the warrant on Sudan Pres. al-Basir is non-binding. That means if anyone arrests or tries to capture him, that would be kidnapping.

Second, a soverign country has the right to expel all those individuals and organizations it finds disruptive or a threat to their security. So, like it or not, Sudan had the right to expel those aid organizations. And let's be clear, no NGO or aid organization is politically neutral; anytime you try to help poor/suffering people, that is a political decision. If you look at the history of the U.S. Peace Corps, you will find many countries in Africa, Asia, etc., have expelled a few or an entire group of Peace Corps. personnel. The Peace Corps is not neutral, they are an arm of the U.S. government.

Lastly, Congressmembers Ellison and Edwards need to inform themselves on the issues going on in Sudan; there is a long history going back to 20 to 35 years that brought us to this critical point, one being ecological change in Africa, Sudan in particular, where deserts areas have expanded greatly, making land for growing crops, animals, etc., more scarce and in times of scarcity, people sometimes fight among themselves. To get arrested with such political ignorance and arrogance of what is really going on in Sudan is shameful and cowardly on the parts of all four, but especially Ellison and Edwards.
:( :( :(

Posted by: 424me | April 27, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Amazing these members of Congress would choose to use their valuable time on this, when there is a mountain of higher priority work that we elected them to tackle.

I see nothing constructive about disobeying the police and getting arrested except that it would be the only way to get notice and news coverage to make it look like our politicians were doing something for a living.

Why work hard to create and pass legislation when you can can make symbolic gestures? Even better, you get to pat yourself on the back for your nobility and compassion.

Posted by: mi-ti-bear | April 27, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Woot! For Donna Edwards. I knew there was a reason I worked on your campaign and voted for you.

As a college student, to see Politicians actively engaged and involved in global issues that not only matter to me, but that matter to millions of people around the world is admirable.

For all the people who are Prince George's Residents, yet complain about her actions and say she is not doing enough for the county, all I can tell you is that you need to redirect your anguish. The people who control schools, the state economy, etc. is the County Government and the State Government. You all are complaining about issues of the STATE. and that is where LOCAL government is the FIRST responder.

Please take a Local, State, and National Government course before you attempt to criticize Ms. Edwards.

@424e I believe they were protesting the withdrawal of aid. Just because you have a "right" to do something doesnt mean that it is right to do. State governments had the "right" to falsely enslave Black American Males in the 20th century for vagrancy. Now was it right to do so? No.

@postisarag Over 150,000 people have died as a result of the War in Iraq. Albert Wynn voted for the War in Iraq, even though, the majority of his constituents DID NOT SUPPORT the war. If you think that supporting a war that have claimed far over 150,000 HUMAN lives as well as ignoring what your voters believe is better than protesting against helping people in dire need. Then you are...draw your own conclusion.

Posted by: 1smartgirl_PGC | April 28, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

I agree with cooper73, also. The protest at the sudanese embassy, and Donna Edwards' participation in it, will not make or break Prince George's County. Our problems are our problems, and they are not going to disappear overnight, however, there is a whole big world out there for other people to be interested in. It is important to keeps eyes and ears on the situation in Sudan. We must care about our fellow man. I am proud of Donna Edwards! If she cares enough to protest the withdrawl of aid for the sudanese people, just think of what she will do for us, in Prince George's county. LIGHTEN UP, PEOPLE!!!!!

Posted by: slandrews54 | April 28, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I am proud of Donna Edwards. Civil disobedience has a venerable tradition in America since the days of Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Surely, we need to stand with millions of mothers, fathers, and children who are being raped, murdered, and starved to death by their own government.

Donna Edwards is taking care of business at home while upholding American values in the world.

Posted by: Hellmut | April 28, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

By the way, for all his shortcomings Al Wynn also got arrested at the Sudanese embassy: .

Good for him.

Posted by: Hellmut | April 28, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

I would rather read Donna Edwards arrested for confronting open air drug markets, or Edwards arrested for interrupting for closure evictions. Edwards cuffed over Prince Georges sheriffs office investigation.
Fix our own leaky lifeboat first.

Posted by: llawrence9 | May 1, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

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