Georgetown students arrested at May 1st Immigrants’ Rights Rally

This past Saturday, approximately sixty Georgetown students joined the thousands who gathered in D.C. to protest recent Arizona immigration laws and to demand comprehensive immigration reform from Congress.

While the rally itself was expected, what happened next was not—twelve current and former Georgetown students were arrested at the event.

David Schwartz (SFS ’12), one of the arrested students, said that the act and the arrests had been “set up beforehand,” claiming that the students expected to be arrested for their actions.

Schwartz also suggested that Park Service Officers had expected to arrest protesters during the rally.

The students, who were arrested for sitting down on the sidewalk outside of the White House, were promptly taken to the Anacostia Police Station for processing. (Protests outside the White House must be constantly moving.) The students were released the same day.

“Civil disobedience is an important and a worthwhile tool to me and I don’t think it should be written off simply because it is ‘disobedience,'” Schwartz said. “In this issue, it was completely warranted in order to get the attention of the media and of President Obama himself.”

14 Comments on “Georgetown students arrested at May 1st Immigrants’ Rights Rally

  1. Not sure I get the reason for sitting outside the White House. Why not sit outside John McCain’s office? Ya know, one of the federal government officials who actually supports the law? Also, what’s the difference in the level of attention Obama gave to the protest after a few people sat down in front of the White House as opposed to a protest of the same size that is constantly moving?

  2. Civil obedience didn’t arise as an effective act of protest simply to “get attention.” The point of civil disobedience is to consciously defy a law that you believe is unjust–the thesis being that if the law is unjust, it is not one that should be binding upon the populace.
    Sitting on the sidewalk outside the white house isn’t civil disobedience. Its a publicity stunt that, as pointed out above, does just about nothing in terms of effectuating change.

  3. I’m not sure why Vox is making it seem as if the folks that got arrested weren’t fully trained and prepared for the arrests. The action, like many actions all over the country had been planned for weeks.

    The people who got arrested including the Georgetown students all arrived at the rally with full knowledge of what they were going to be doing and what would happen to them when they sat in front of the White House — they were even all wearing coordinated t-shirts.

    Why would the reporting on this article make it seem otherwise?

  4. @Confused?

    That one’s on me. I edited the piece to read that the arrests were surprising because it’s not every day that a Georgetown student gets arrested. I felt that the third paragraph of the post explained that Schwartz expected to be arrested.

    Re-reading it now, I can see how it’s confusing. We didn’t intend to suggest that the arrested students were caught by surprise when Park Police rolled up to ‘cuff em. My apologies.

  5. Hmmm…Schwartz? Sounds German. Where are this kid’s papers, he could very well be an illegal who snuck over in a BMW shipping container!

  6. Why are you reporting on this 6 days after it happened?
    Also, what were they charged with? How many people were arrested overall? A good journalist would have included this information in their story.

  7. @ ??

    This is a Georgetown blog, not a national one. If you want to read about how many people were arrested overall, go somewhere else.

  8. I believe that this publicity stunt was effective in the way it took place – that is, in civilly disobeying a law (therefore, civil disobedience) and in being in front of the White House.

    It gained mass nationwide coverage and exposed a pressing issue of injustice, as well as the fact that many people are passionate about improving immigration practices and attacking the legalized racism of Arizona SB1070.

    Among the 37 protesters arrested was Illinois Representative Luis Gutierrez, whose arrest illuminated the protesters’ powerful message that they won’t stand for a broken immigration system and garnered even greater awareness.

  9. “I believe that this publicity stunt was effective in the way it took place – that is, in civilly disobeying a law (therefore, civil disobedience) and in being in front of the White House.”

    Fine, whatever, but that’s not what civil disobedience means, OK? You have to actually disobey or in some way inhibit the implementation of the policy or law you are protesting – hence Thoreau’s definitive essay on the topic involved not paying his taxes, because he did not want (among other things) to fund the Mexican War. Illegally sitting on the sidewalk of the White House neither disobeys nor inhibits Arizona state law. It is done in order to get attention. It is a protest move. It’s not civil disobedience. God knows there’s enough self-righteousness going on here without misusing clearly-defined terms to make ourselves sound cool.

  10. I have read and studied Thoreau’s definitive essay on the topic. I don’t, however, eat up definitions I’m fed and regurgitate them back out, therefore allowing them to remain stagnant. All that we learn is subject to different interpretations and change.

    If someone uses the exact definition of the words “civil disobedience” to name an act that doesn’t inhibit the implementation of the policy or law they’re protesting but rather to shed light on an injustice and remind the government that we want this country to be a country who respects people not simply because they’re legal Americans, but because they’re people, and the protestors succeed in getting attention, then I do think this was an effective act of civil disobedience. It’s not a matter of self-righteousness.

    It’s a matter of doing something about your beliefs rather than just reading about other people who did something about theirs.

  11. Well aren’t you a rebel? Have fun with the arrest record. You can then explain your act of “civil disobedience” to potential employers. I think that to compare sitting on the WH sidewalk to legitimate actions of civil disobedience (Rosa Parks) is a tremendous insult to those who have been arrested defying an unjust law.

  12. I think you’re forgetting that both Rosa Parks and those arrested on May 1st, although not comparable in terms of directly defying an unjust law, are fighting for comparable causes of horrible treatment of minorities in this country that people are all too willing to ignore so that they don’t have to explain themselves to potential employers.

  13. Pingback: Vox Populi » Comments of the Week: The end is near

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