HBCU Buzz
Photo credit: Devon J. Crawford Twitter page

5 Howard Students Arrested Protesting Sessions’ Nomination

Five Howard University students were arrested Tuesday afternoon after staging a nonviolent sit-in, protesting the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — demanding that he withdraws his nomination at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.

According to Howard University’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (HU NAACP) twitter account, the direct action to demand Senator Sessions’ withdrawal originated from a variety of reasons including his failure to explicitly acknowledge the effects of voter suppression across the country.

HU NAACP Vice President Deja Bryant said in a statement on the arrests that “We ask that the public continue to support the Howard University NAACP’s efforts to uphold the National NAACP’s purpose: “To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”

Bryant also commented on her plan of action after hearing of her colleagues’ arrest:

“It brought me a great deal grief and pride to seeing my colleagues risk arrest while fighting what they are passionate about. It became very personal to me, seeing people that I work so closely with, my friends in handcuffs.”

She added:

“I immediately began to seek full clarification regarding exactly who was arrested and what actions were already begin taken for their release. My first priority was to ensure that everything was secure and they were being supported with whatever resources they needed while staying in contact with various leaders and collaborators.”

HU NAACP member Bryttany McClendon-Weary shared her experience prior to and during her arrest:

“When we started chanting loudly the police came and warned us first and said ‘If you don’t leave out of the office you are going to be arrested’. When we did not move, more police, around four, came and took us out one by one and we went downstairs to place us in the police van. Initially, they charged us with unlawful entry but was dropped to crowding.”

McClendon-Weary continued:

“We were barely at the office for an hour. We arrived at 10 and was escorted by 11. Since more protesters were brought to the station, processing was pushed back but we all eventually left at around 5 pm with a court date and our belongings. Despite our arrests, our sit-in wasn’t bad at all. It was very effective. We don’t hate Jeff, but his political views may be viewed as harmful towards the black community. In our opinion, Sessions should not be placed in a position of authority to dictate laws.”

Howard students arrested include Jamieson Davids, Joshua Parks, Llewellyn Robinson and Jacqueline Grant (HU NAACP President), in addition to protestors from Democracy Spring, a movement organization committed to winning fundamental reforms to end the corruption of big money in politics and guarantee the right to vote for all Americans.

Davids agreed with McClendon-Weary:

“I felt the sit-in was successful and helped reinforce the message that Jeff Session would be a terrible pick for Attorney General due to his atrocious track record on voting rights. When I was escorted, it felt good to see other protestors and their outrage over Sessions’ appointment.”

Davids also shared his thoughts with prominent figures also speaking out on Senator Session’s nomination:

“I am very supportive of what they do. I love how they use their position of power to enact change whether they’re politicians like Corey Booker or NAACP President Cornell William Brooks to speak out against Senator Sessions in order to bring up his terrible record on voting rights.”

All students have since been released. HU NAACP in collaboration with Howard University Student Association (HUSA) scheduled a second-day protest via call-in on Wednesday, Jan. 11, but was postponed in order to have Howard professors and other faculty members involved.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the abbreviation of NAACP. We apologize for the mistake.

Jacinth Jones

An aspiring journalist attending Howard University.