NAACP Arrests And 1140 Law Professors Protest Jeff Sessions As AG
Sessions has opposed laws promoting civil rights or a safety net for Americans. His nomination is extreme and the NAACP response will continue.
Members of the NAACP took over Sen. Jeff Sessions’ Mobile, AL office on Tuesday morning, in an act of civil disobedience. The national organization’s president, Cornell Wm. Brooks — who was among them — immediately tweeted the following:
— Cornell Wm. Brooks (@CornellWBrooks) January 3, 2017
About seven hours later, Sessions hadn’t withdrawn but the protesters were put in zip-tie handcuffs and placed under arrest.
Sessions is, of course, Donald Trump’s extremely controversial pick for U.S. Attorney General. The Alabama senator couldn’t win approval to become a federal judge in 1986, under Ronald Reagan, because of his history of making racist remarks. When Trump made the current nomination in November, Brooks released a statement calling the appointment “despicable and unacceptable.” He said:
Senator Sessions’ record suggests that he will carry on an old, ugly legacy in this country’s history when civil rights for African-Americans, women and minorities were not regarded as core American values. While Lady Justice may be said to be blind, we need an Attorney General with 20-20 vision in seeing racial injustice. Whether Senator Sessions, with decades of failing grades on the NAACP’s report card, possesses a racial vision and commitment to justice is in serious question.
Serious, indeed — as 1140 law professors well understood. On Tuesday, they, too —professors from 49 states — protested by sending a letter to Congress, objecting to Sessions’ appointment. Only Alaska, which doesn’t have a law school, isn’t represented. Their letter stated:
In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.
The letter cited concerns about Sessions’ prosecution of civil rights activists in 1985, his”promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud”, his support for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, his support of drug laws that resulted in mass incarceration of Americans, his doubts about climate change, and his opposition to legislation that would “promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community.” It concluded by calling on members of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary to reject the nomination.
Both actions, as well as multiple news conferences scheduled by the NAACP at Sessions’ various Alabama offices, were prompted by the fact that hearings on the Attorney General nomination are to be held by the Senate on January 10th and 11th.
The NY Daily News called Sessions “one of the staunchest conservatives in the Senate,” saying also:
He has opposed Obamacare, marijuana legalization, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and all three of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees.
In other words, Sessions has opposed virtually everything that provides civil rights and a safety net for Americans. His nomination is extreme; and the required response will also have to be extreme, though peaceful.
When the office building owner asked Cornell Brooks if the NAACP protesters would leave Tuesday evening without being arrested, Brooks responded:
That’s not how the @NAACP works.
Brooks and five others were then arrested and removed from the building. The six have been charged with second degree criminal trespassing.
That’s the kind of risk and commitment that the Trump years — however long they last — are going to see more of, as activists organize against the repression that is expected from the new administration. As Brooks said earlier in the day:
As a matter of conscience and conviction, we can neither be mute nor mumble our opposition…
A whole lot of Americans are about to become louder than they’ve ever been. They have a week to bring the Sessions nomination to a screeching halt.
Feature photos from @NAACP on Twitter.