Rep. Ellison recounts his Darfur protest arrest


Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison was arrested yesterday along with seven others, including four others from Congress, in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. He was protesting the removal of several aid groups from Darfur.

Ellison was detained for about three hours before being released on $100 bail after the planned arrest. Yesterday he spoke about the arrest and why they chose to do the stunt.

To watch the members of Congress during the protest and in the process of being arrested, Huffington Post has a video here.

Listen to Ellison talk about the arrest and the ongoing issues in Sudan on Minnesota Public Radio:

Ellison recounted the arrest in MinnPost:

"There was a piece of yellow tape that separated the protesters from the Sudanese embassy, and the group of us deliberately went across it," Ellison said. "Then the police warned us to leave the first time, and they let a little time go by. And my stress level went up, and then they issued a second warning, and my stress level went up, and then they gave us a third warning and I knew I was about to be arrested."

He said that while they waited in jail, the group listened to Lewis tell stories about the civil rights movement and his experiences with protests.

Sudan pushed the aid groups out after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president on charges that he directed the mass murder of tens of thousands of people living in Darfur. The national aid agencies had been providing about 1.1 million civilians with food aid, 1.5 million with health care and more than 1 million with potable water, according to the Save Darfur Coalition.

"I thought that it was such an appalling situation that I thought I would use the real honor and prestige associated with my office to bring attention to this situation," Ellison said.

The Republican Party of Minnesota called the arrest a publicity stunt. Minnesota Democrats Exposed criticized him for thinking he is above the law. But over at Anti-Strib blog, Ellison got some rare praise:
Credit where it's due. Ellison is the only Muslim I can recall who has a problem with the genocide of the blacks in Darfur. What's been happening in Darur really is a crime against humanity. Again Kudos to congressman Ellison for making a stink.