Two protests in Hart end in Valentine’s Day arrests

Demonstrations for gun control and against a West Virginia factory project resulted in 19 arrests Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Passion was in the air in the Hart Senate Office building on Valentine’s Day. Demonstrations for gun control and against a West Virginia factory project  resulted in 19 arrests Thursday.

A group called Gays Against Guns staged a demonstration in the Hart Atrium in the afternoon. They chanted “Guns are breaking America’s heart,” and “Stronger background checks now” as they lay on the floor enveloped in a massive swath of shiny red fabric.

They were advocating for the passage of HR 8, which would expand required background checks to all firearm sales, including those made online or at gun shows. The House Judiciary Committee advanced the legislation Wednesday.

The action in Hart was part of a larger agenda for Valentine’s Day that included demonstrations in Union Station and outside the Supreme Court, and delivering messages to certain lawmakers’ offices.

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Capitol Police arrested eight protesters and charged them with D.C. Code 22-1307, Crowding, Obstructing, or Incommoding.

Two hours earlier, a group of protesters gathered near Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s office to condemn an insulation factory that’s coming to Jefferson County. Around 20 West Virginians with the Resist Rockwool organization entered the office with plans to “confront” Manchin and urge him to oppose construction of the factory. He participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in 2018, according to the group.

Protesters spoke about threats they believe the Rockwool factory poses to the water, air and economy of the area.

“Today it’s on Joe Manchin. What will he do? Which side is he on? Is he on the side of whoring corporations that would rape our land, our water our people and poison our children and people who voted for him?” asked one protester.

A video taken by Resist Rockwool shows Capitol Police entering the office while protesters began to sing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.”

At approximately 1 p.m., Capitol Police arrested 11 people for “unlawfully demonstrating” outside of Manchin’s office, while the demonstrators sang “Country Roads.” They were charged with D.C. Code 22-1307, Crowding, Obstructing, or Incommoding.

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