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D.C. Mayor, Council Members Arrested In Protest Over Budget

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Council Member Yvette Alexander handcuffed at a protest over the federal budget deal April 11. Some of the protesters arrested alongside her have opted not to pay the fine and take the case to trial.
Patrick Madden
Council Member Yvette Alexander handcuffed at a protest over the federal budget deal April 11. Some of the protesters arrested alongside her have opted not to pay the fine and take the case to trial.

The protest had dissipated by 7 p.m. Monday. Many participants then headed to a U.S. Capital Police Station, where Gray and others were being processed.

The demonstration started out as a regular protest, and then suddenly the leaders started walking out into the middle of the Constitution Avenue holding a giant banner. Then they all sat down, including Gray and members of the City Council. The Capitol Police warned them, but then after about 10 minutes they started arresting protesters and council members and finally the mayor. Each time, the crowd on the side of the street would roar.

Several protesters and observers of the demonstration said they had not seen a show of protest like this before in the District. Dozens of citizens and city leaders gathered outside the Hart Building on Capitol Hill, calling for Congress to remove the riders -- or policy pronouncements -– that were included in the budget deal.

One bans spending of local dollars on abortions. The other restarts a school voucher program.

Many of the protesters carried signs that read, "Don't tread on D.C." While the goal here, they said, was to remove the riders from the bill before it is signed later this week, there was a fear that congressional lawmakers may also add a rider that would ban the city's needle-exchange programming. That is still up in the air, according to D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

In an interview on WAMU's Morning Edition Monday, Gray called the budget deal "shocking" and said that D.C. "shouldn't have been the compromise."

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