The president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was arrested after staging a sit-in at the Roanoke office of Virginia congressman Bob Goodlatte to demand a hearing on the Voting Rights Act, which was signed into law 51 years ago on Saturday. Cornell Brooks, the NAACP president, and Stephen Green, national director of the group’s youth and college division, were arrested shortly after the congressman’s office closed at 5pm, Green said in an email. He said the men were charged with trespassing, a misdemeanor, and released. Officers with the Roanoke police department had allowed the protest to continue throughout the day. They returned when the office closed for the day and made two arrests after Brooks and Green refused to leave.
“I’m feeling very strongly about today’s action,” Green said in an email after the arrest. “The energy from the youth during today’s action empowered me to remain resilient through this civil disobedience.”
Nearly 30 protesters occupied the Republican’s office on Monday morning, demanding that Goodlatte, as chairman of the House judiciary committee, convene a hearing on the Voting Rights Act. The number of protesters filtered throughout the day and by mid-afternoon, there were about 15 people remaining.
Earlier, Brooks spoke to the Guardian in a phone call from Goodlatte’s office. “People bled, sweated and died for the right to vote,” Brooks said. “Why can’t Congress conduct a hearing on the right to vote? All we’re asking for is a hearing. It’s not radical.”