What did you do on Tuesday? It probably wasn’t what some members of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) did. Early Tuesday morning, six members (five men and one woman) were arrested for protesting U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination for US attorney general. Some of these members included president and CEO of the NAACP, Cornell W. Brooks, Stephen Green, the national director of the youth division in the NAACP, and Bernard Simelton, who is the president of the NAACP’s Alabama state conference.
The sit-in protest began Tuesday morning at Session’s Mobile, Alabama office and lasted over 7 hours, ending late Tuesday night. All 10 – 20 protesters that participated stated they wouldn’t move until, either Sessions gave up his nomination, or until they were arrested, “We are asking the senator to withdraw his name for consideration as attorney general or for the President-elect, Donald Trump, to withdraw the nomination,” Brooks said.
According to police, the six people that were arrested face charges of misdemeanor criminal trespassing. All these individuals were fully aware that they might be arrested and left the scene of the protest peacefully. This is just one of many protests taking place to stop Session’s nomination since Donald Trump made the announcement back in November.
Why They’re So Angry
In case you’re unaware, the office of attorney general is the nation’s top prosecutor. The reason the NAACP, and other civil rights organizations, are unhappy about this nomination is because of Session’s history as a prosecutor. He specifically has a controversial history with voting rights and race relations.
He’s, reportedly, expressed his opposition to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and has been accused of targeting African-American voters during his time as a U.S. Attorney back in 1985. In Mobile, Alabama, several African-Americans were arrested on charges of voter fraud under his ruling. The opposition stated that they were simply assisting poor, illiterate, and elderly voters in casting their ballots. In response to these allegations, critics cried out in anger that Sessions was mostly prosecuting African-American voters and forgiving white voters. Sessions and his colleagues eventually went to trial because of these allegations but were acquitted. The tension hasn’t subsided and has since followed Sessions throughout his career. In 1986, Sessions was considered for a job as a federal judge, but was, ultimately, denied this opportunity because of the alleged racist remarks he made as a prosecutor.
Sessions has also stated that he believes the KKK is “ok,” that he supports broad immigration reform, and has stated that he might roll back advances that the Obama administration has made against alleged police misconduct. He’s also referred to civil rights administrations, like the NAACP, as “un-American.”
Throughout his time in office, Sessions has been accused of and linked to racist allegations. Because of his controversial history, there’s a strong possibility that his fellow senators will closely examine and analyze his position during the confirmation process.
Despite Sessions’ history, many people are coming to his side, some even saying that may African-Americans attest to Sessions’ ability to uphold the law.
One of these people is Sarah Isgur Flores, who’s a spokeswoman for Sessions. When asked about her thoughts on what the NAACP is saying, she said, “Jeff Sessions has dedicated his career to upholding the rule of law, ensuring public safety and prosecuting government corruption. Many African-American leaders who’ve known him for decades attest to this and have welcomed his nomination to be the next Attorney General.” She later referred to what the NAACP as “tired” and claimed that their statements have been “discredited.”
Sources reporting on this issue couldn’t get comments from anyone involved. Brooks, however, posted a photo of the sit-in to social media and many people have reacted to it, expressing their support for this protest. This isn’t the only decision that Donald Trump has made that’s caused an uproar…and it probably won’t be the last.